A Bloomberg journalist who has seen Donald Trump‘s tax returns has claimed that people within the former president’s organization may flip and turn against him during an inquiry by the Manhattan District Attorney.
On Thursday, D.A. Cy Vance’s office revealed it had received ‘millions of pages’ of Trump’s tax returns and financial records after a Supreme Court ruling refused an attempt to keep them under wraps.
Vance’s prosecutors are investigating whether Trump committed tax fraud through inflating the value of his properties to get loans and deflating them for tax purposes, and are also believed to still be investigating hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal over their claims of having sex with the former president.
Bloomberg Opinion senior columnist Tim O’Brien told MSNBC that he believed Vance’s acquisition of the tax returns meant that the ‘dam Trump has spent decades building has gone down’.
He added that Vance’s inquiry may also target ‘people inside of the Trump organization who might flip on Trump if they’re exposed to criminal liabilities’, including his main accountant Allen Weisselberg.
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Bloomberg Opinion senior columnist Tim O’Brien claims an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney could target ‘people inside of the Trump organization who might flip on Trump if they’re exposed to criminal liabilities’. He previously viewed Trump’s tax returns
Trump lost a bid this week to keep his financial records from the Manhattan D.A.
O’Brien has previously had the opportunity to view Trump’s tax returns after the former president sued him for saying that he wasn’t as rich as he makes himself out to be.
Trump lost the suit.
O’Brien told MSNBC that Trump ‘is very afraid of what’s in these documents, I think’.
‘The first thing to remember is it’s just not the tax returns, it’s the work product with his accountants. This is criminal case and one of the procedures in a criminal case is Cy Vance needs to show intent,’ he said.
‘He’s going to need to show that Donald Trump had awareness of what was going on, or his children or executives in the Trump Organization, and that they were batting issues like this back and forth with their accountant.
‘Presumably, they have also got communications and notes on all the decision they made about how they were valuing their properties: when they were taking them to banks and saying one thing and then how to value them when they were putting them in front of tax authorities and saying something completely different.’
O’Brien adds that the investigation also puts Trump’s three eldest children Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka ‘on the radar’.
‘Eric Trump has been deposed,’ he stated.
‘Ivanka’s name has come up in disclosures already in the tax returns about receiving what appear tp be very sketchy and lucreative consulting fees from her father’s company – a company she already received a salary from.
‘And then it also targets people in inside the Trump organization who might flip on Trump if they’re exposed to criminal liabilities.’
O’Brien claims Trumo’s main accountant Allen Weisselberg could flip
O’Brien claims that the Manhattan D.A.’s investigation also puts Trump’s three eldest children Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka ‘on the radar’. They are pictured with him in 2017
‘He’s really in deep on this one I think,’ O’Brien said of Trump, claiming that Vance ‘probably has reams and reams of the accountant’s work product’.
‘This is a criminal case, they’re going to need to prove criminal intent on the part of Trump, his three eldest children, Allen Weisselberg, and anyone else in the Trump Organization who’s fallen under the parameters of this investigation.
WHAT COULD PROSECUTORS FIND IN DOCUMENT TROVE?
The millions of pages of Trump documents are not just his tax returns, but the paperwork which underlies them: internal company documents, emails, spreadsheets and memos, and banking records from lenders, which were used by accountants to generate the returns.
That means prosecutors, who are now assisted by forensic accountants from private firm FTI, can try to reconstruct the thought process which led to the tax declarations – and look for any evidence of wrongdoing which went into them
Cy Vance’s team is known to be looking at whether Trump changed the declared value of his Manhattan property empire for his own advantage.
They pounced on claims by Michael Cohen, his Mr Fixit-turned-deadly-enemy, that the Trump Organization increased its claimed value for buildings when asking banks for loans, then decreased the values for tax authorities. Both would be offenses.
PAYMENTS TO IVANKA?
Consulting fees given to Ivanka Trump have raised eyebrows because she was also an employee of the Trump Organization. If the consultancy fees were given to evade or avoid tax, that could be of interest to Vance. His team will also be looking for any other payments to other people which they may conclude were an attempt to avoid tax.
The probe was launched initially in the wake of payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, allegedly to silence them from making allegations of sex with Trump. Evidence that further implicates him in making payments may be a campaign finance issue, and if there are other – so far unknown – payments to other people for other reasons, those too could be of interest.
THE TRUMP FAMILY FORTUNE
Trump is being sued by his niece Mary who alleges he and two of his siblings – his sister Maryanne Trump Barry and late brother Robert – swindled her and her brother out of their rightful inheritance thought an orchestrated system which was also designed to avoid tax. She bases her claim on a previous treasure trove of older tax documents. Alleged crimes from the mid-1990s and earlier are likely to be covered by the statute of limitations, but prosecutors may look for similar patterns to those she alleges to see if there is an attempt to structure inheritances for younger generations of Trumps at the expense of the public purse.
‘And if there are email and notes and other records of communication about what they intended to do when they inflated the value of buildings so they could get loans against them and then turned around and deflated the value of the buildings so they could pay lower taxes on them, and there’s a communication around that that predates any of these tax entries, that is gold for a prosecutor.’
O’Brien added that ‘Trump has been well aware’ of the charges that could be brought against him.
‘That is why he’s been resisting it with these garbage excuse of being under an audit he is very afraid of what’s in these documents I think,’ he said.
‘There could be references in the email to what he was directed to do by Trump even if Trump’s not the author the email and I think a lot of this will turn on how aggressive Cy Vance chooses to be.
‘All of these sort of decisions and communications help to establish culpability and intent so what is important here is of course he has the tax returns, but he has something such more than the tax returns the period of time he has is important because it predates Trump’s accent into the White House, and I think helps build the narrative around the money trail and Trump’s motivations for his destructive and obscene dance with people like Vladimir Putin,’ he said.
The journalist added that ‘it’s a shame’ Vance could only get the tax returns from 2011 to 2019 as earlier finance records could have given away more information, but it is ‘better than nothing’.
‘I think this is one of the tragic misses of Robert Mueller’s investigation’ O’Brien claims.
‘He could have gone back further, I think, than Cy Vance is able to into Trump’s finances but nonetheless it is a substantial period of time it’s eight years.’
O’Brien stated the importance of the investigation as if Trump is convicted, he will not be able to run for president again.
‘That’s looming over this entire thing as well,’ he notes.
Trump himself has blasted Vance’s investigation claiming it’s ‘a continuation of the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of our Country.’
In a nearly-400-word statement after the Supreme Court ruling on Monday, the statement recited a litany of past complaints by the former president including blasting former special counsel Robert Mueller, and falsely claiming he won the election.
‘So now, for more than two years, New York City has been looking at almost every transaction I’ve ever done, including seeking tax returns which were done by among the biggest and most prestigious law and accounting firms in the U.S.’ it said.
‘The Supreme Court never should have let this “fishing expedition” happen, but they did. This is something which has never happened to a President before, it is all Democrat-inspired in a totally Democrat location, New York City and State, completely controlled and dominated by a heavily reported enemy of mine, Governor Andrew Cuomo.’
The justices’ ruling did not – and will not – make Trump’s tax records public but gives Vance access to eight years of returns.
The high court’s action is a blow to Trump because he has for so long fought on so many fronts to keep his tax records shielded from view.
Vance has disclosed little about what prompted him to request the records. In one court filing last year, however, prosecutors said they were justified in demanding the records because of public reports of ‘possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.’
Part of the probe involves payments to two women – porn actress Daniels and model McDougal – to keep them quiet during the 2016 presidential campaign about alleged extramarital affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the affairs.
Vance has hired a high-profile attorney with decades of experience with white collar crime cases as it ramps up its investigation.
Cy Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, is leading the investigation
The Manhattan district attorney’s office hired Mark Pomerantz (pictured in 2008), a high-profile attorney with decades of experience with white collar crime cases, this month as it ramps up its investigation into Donald Trump’s business dealings
Mark Pomerantz, a former prosecutor for the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, joined Vance’s team as a special assistant district attorney earlier this month.
Pomerantz has already hit the ground running, conducting an interview with Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen last Thursday, Reuters reported.
His hiring is part of a flurry of recent activity in Vance’s investigation into the Trump family business, a probe which has been open for two and a half years.
Vance also recently issued roughly a dozen new subpoenas in its investigation of Trump; two sources close to the probe told Reuters last week.
One of the subpoenas went to Ladder Capital Finance LLC, a major creditor used by Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, to finance the former president´s commercial real estate holdings, the sources said.
Vance’s office has also conducted interviews with Ladder’s staff, one source familiar with the matter said.
Separately, New York state Attorney General Letitia James is leading a civil probe into whether Trump’s company falsely reported property values to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits.
Both investigations are examining whether Trump’s company placed artificially high values on several major commercial properties in documents used to secure favorable loan arrangements, while diminishing the value of those properties in filings used as a basis for calculating its tax bills.