Donald Trump’s looming legal problems continue past impeachment trial


Investigators in New York and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives have several inquiries that will continue well into the presidential campaign. Their focus touches an area that Trump has long tried to shield from scrutiny: his finances.

The investigations have been underway for nearly a year. Trump has filed lawsuits to block subpoenas to his long-time accounting firm Mazars USA and banks Deutsche Bank and Capitol One. Now both matters are before the US Supreme Court, meaning the pace of those investigations is largely tied to the court’s schedule.

Oral arguments are set for March and a decision will come by June. Behind the scenes investigators are continuing to collect evidence and interview witnesses, but major decisions are unlikely until the justices decide whether investigators can review the President’s financial and tax records — putting the outcome of investigations on a collision course with the 2020 election.

The case that may pose the biggest legal threat to Trump’s company is the criminal investigation led by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. The DA’s office is investigating whether the President and the Trump Organization violated state laws in connection with hush money payments made to women alleging affairs with Trump. The investigation is looking into whether business records filed with the state were falsified and if any tax laws were violated, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The criminal investigation goes beyond those payments, according to prosecutors, who redacted several paragraphs in court filings describing the scope of the inquiry. On Friday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said his office asked the DA to investigate discrepancies revealed in a ProPublica article about the information the Trump Organization told tax authorities and lenders about its business.

Investigators have interviewed Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, and David Pecker, a long-time confidant of Trump who ran the tabloid newspaper The National Enquirer. The DA subpoenaed Mazars for Trump’s personal and business tax returns, and the President sued to block the accounting firm from complying.
Investigators launched their inquiry last summer after the US attorney for the Southern District of New York closed its investigation into the Trump Organization’s handling of the hush money payments. In 2018, prosecutors charged Cohen with multiple crimes including violating federal election laws for facilitating the payments. Cohen pleaded guilty and is serving a three-year prison sentence. For months prosecutors continued to investigate whether the Trump Organization broke the law in how it reimbursed Cohen but closed its case in July with no further charges.

NY attorney general

In March 2019, New York’s Attorney General launched a civil investigation into Trump’s funding of several commercial projects. The probe was prompted by Cohen’s congressional testimony in which he alleged that Trump inflated his assets.

Deutsche Bank complied with a subpoena the following month and began turning over documents, including emails and loan documents, relating to Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC; the Trump National Doral Miami; the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago; and the unsuccessful effort to buy the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. It is not clear where the investigation stands.

Deutsche Bank, which has loaned more than $300 million to the Trump Organization according to Trump’s financial disclosures and other public filings, is one of the only large global banks that would do business with the family.

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The Democrat-led House Intelligence, Financial Services and Oversight Committees kicked off investigations into Trump and his finances early last year as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election was wrapping up.

Lawmakers have said their inquiry is broad and is looking at everything from the President’s financial interests with foreign governments to whether anti-money laundering laws or federal ethics laws need to be tightened.

For its part, the Intelligence Committee’s time has been absorbed by the impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Source : Nbcnewyork