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Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Donald Trump rails against the 'continuation of the witch hunt' as Manhattan DA reveals he is probing the Trump Organization for 'insurance and bank fraud' and 'pattern of financial misconduct'

President Donald Trump railed against a 'witch hunt' Monday after New York prosecutors seeking his tax returns told a federal court his family company is being probed for alleged fraud.
Trump addressed the case at a White House press briefing after a rambling introduction where he said the coronavirus would 'soon be very much under control.'
He then got asked about the court push, where prosecutors indicated their probes are going well beyond a hush-payment scheme to porn star Stormy Daniels and into complex financial matters related to the company started by Trump's father and overseen by him until he was elected in 2016.
'This is just a continuation of the witch hunt,' Trump said. 
'This is just a continuation of the witch hunt,' president Donald Trump fumed as prosecutors sought to obtain his tax returns by citing widerangeing investigations of his business
'This is just a continuation of the witch hunt,' president Donald Trump fumed as prosecutors sought to obtain his tax returns by citing widerangeing investigations of his business


'It’s Democrat stuff they failed with Mueller they failed with everything,' Trump said, referencing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which generally confined itself to allegations of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russians. The report preceded a failed Democratic impeachment effort.
'They failed at every stage of the game,' Trump said. 'Even before I got in this was starting with the Mueller deal. Mueller started a little bit after,' Trump corrected himself. Mueller was appointed after former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation in 2017.
Trump also said he was barely familiar with the matter, which was reported in the New York Times and a variety of outlets as a court filing was made public.   
'There’s nothing that I know even about it,' Trump said. 'I said what’s this all about? I know nothing about it.'
'It’s a terrible thing that they do. It’s really a terrible thing. The witch hunt has gone on long enough,' he said. 
A Manhattan prosecutor trying to get President Donald Trump´s tax returns told a judge Monday that he was justified in demanding them, citing public reports of 'extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.' 
Trump´s lawyers last month said the grand jury subpoena for the tax returns was issued in bad faith and amounted to harassment of the president.
Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. is seeking eight years of the Republican president´s personal and corporate tax records, but has disclosed little about what prompted him to request the records, other than part of the investigation is related to payoffs made to women to keep them quiet about alleged affairs with Trump.
The Manhattan District Attorney cited reports of 'extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization' as it defended its subpoena of eight years of Trump and Trump Organization tax returns
The Manhattan District Attorney cited reports of 'extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization' as it defended its subpoena of eight years of Trump and Trump Organization tax returns
In a court filing Monday, though, attorneys for Vance said Trump's arguments that the subpoena was too broad stemmed from 'the false premise' that the probe was limited to so-called 'hush-money' payments.
'This Court is already aware that this assertion is fatally undermined by undisputed information in the public record,' Vance´s lawyers wrote. 
They said public reporting demonstrates that at the time the subpoena was issues 'there were public allegations of possible criminal activity at Plaintiff´s New York County-based Trump Organization dating back over a decade.'
'These reports describe transactions involving individual and corporate actors based in New York County, but whose conduct at times extended beyond New York´s borders. This possible criminal activity occurred within the applicable statutes of limitations, particularly if the transactions involved a continuing pattern of conduct,' the lawyers said.
'In light of these public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization, there was nothing facially improper (or even particularly unusual) about the Mazars Subpoena, which issued in connection with a complex financial investigation, requesting eight years of records from an accounting firm,' they wrote.
The office had earlier subpoenaed the Mazars accounting firm for the tax return information, in a case that resulted in a 7-2 Supreme Court decision. 
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s office continues to seek Trump tax return information in court
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s office continues to seek Trump tax return information in court
Longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen says Trump directed him to make payments to Stormy Daniels
Longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen says Trump directed him to make payments to Stormy Daniels
The filing says the investigation prompting the subpoenas is about more than 'hush money' payments. Here Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels attends the 2019 Adult Video News Awards at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 26, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada
The filing says the investigation prompting the subpoenas is about more than 'hush money' payments. Here Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels attends the 2019 Adult Video News Awards at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 26, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada
Trump denies the porn star's allegations of an affair
Trump denies the porn star's allegations of an affair
The lawyers urged Judge Victor Marrero to swiftly reject Trump's arguments, saying the baseless claims were threatening the investigation. Marrero, who ruled against Trump last year, has scheduled arguments to be fully submitted by mid-August.
'Every day that goes by is another day Plaintiff effectively achieves the `temporary absolute immunity´ that was rejected by this Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court,' Vance's lawyers said. 'Every such day also increases the prospect of a loss of evidence or the expiration of limitations periods - the precise concerns that the Supreme Court observed justified its rejection of Plaintiff´s immunity claim in the first place.'
The Supreme Court last month rejected claims by Trump´s lawyers that the president could not be criminally investigated while he was in office.
Vance sought the tax records in part for a probe of how Trump´s then-personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged during the 2016 presidential race to keep the porn actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal from airing claims of extramarital affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the affairs.
Cohen is serving the last two years of a three-year prison sentence in home confinement after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations and lying to Congress, among other charges. He said he plans to publish a book critical of the president before the November election.
The prosecutors' memo sites cites three media reports to back up the claim that 'possible criminal activity' justify the subpoena. A Wall Street Journal story details the $130,000 hush payment that Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump. Another is an extensive New York Times report alleging Trump engaged in 'outright fraud' and reported on an investigation on practices Trump and his siblings took to lower the taxable estate of his father, Fred Trump.
They also cited a Washington Post report that Trump overstated his wealth when he would issue a 'Statements of Financial Condition' to ledners and insurers. Longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen leveled the charge in House testimony following his guilty plea of lying to Congress.

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