New York prosecutors finally got a hold of Trump's taxes after a lengthy court battle

Sonam Sheth
·3 min read
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  • The Manhattan district attorney's office has obtained Trump's tax returns.

  • The development comes after the Supreme Court blocked Trump's last effort to keep his taxes secret.

  • Trump's financial documents are at the heart of investigations into whether he violated laws.

  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Manhattan district attorney's office has obtained former President Donald Trump's closely held tax returns after a long court fight.

CNN on Thursday cited one source as saying that prosecutors got hold of the documents on Monday, hours after the Supreme Court rejected Trump's last ditch effort to block the release of his taxes.

The former president's financial documents are at the heart of several investigations into whether he or entities controlled by him violated state or federal laws.

The Manhattan DA is interested in them as part of an investigation into whether the Trump Organization ran afoul of New York laws when it facilitated illegal hush money payments during the 2016 campaign to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump in the 2000s.

The scope of the investigation is unclear, but the office hinted in a September court filing that Trump could be investigated for tax fraud. The filing extensively cited previous media coverage of Trump's finances as reason to subpoena eight years and millions of pages of his tax returns.

When the case initially landed at the Supreme Court, Trump's lawyers made the broad and unprecedented claim that the president has "absolute immunity" from any criminal investigation while he's in office. In July, the court ruled 7-2 in favor of the Manhattan DA's office but allowed Trump to keep fighting the subpoena on other grounds in the lower courts.

A month later, a federal judge again struck down Trump's efforts to block the subpoena, describing the president's actions as "unprecedented," "far-reaching," and "perilous" to the rule of law. Now that the Supreme Court has also cleared the way for prosecutors to get Trump's taxes, investigators have access to a potential treasure trove of information about the complex world of Trump's business activities.

Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime former lawyer and fixer, testified to Congress in 2019 that Trump repeatedly inflated or deflated the value of his financial assets for loan and tax purposes, respectively.

Cohen's testimony came after he pleaded guilty to several felonies in investigations by the Manhattan US attorney's office and the special counsel Robert Mueller. He cooperated extensively with both probes, and in his congressional testimony, Cohen said the US attorney's office was investigating "wrongdoing or illegal acts" involving Trump that had not yet been revealed at the time.

Multiple media reports also said that Trump kept two sets of books for his properties, indicating potential financial fraud and lending credence to Cohen's testimony.

ProPublica reported in 2019 that the Trump Organization presented different occupancy rates for Trump Tower in Manhattan to lenders and tax authorities. Earlier, Mother Jones published an investigation that found that Trump might have fabricated a loan to avoid paying $50 million in income taxes. And The New York Times reported in 2018 that Trump used a series of dubious tax schemes to shield a $400 million inheritance from the IRS.

In 2019, an IRS whistleblower came forward and alleged that there were "inappropriate efforts to influence" the agency's mandatory audit of Trump's taxes. And late last year, The Times published another bombshell investigation showing that Trump paid just $750 in income taxes in 2016 and 2017.

Read the original article on Business Insider