Cohen Subpoenaed In Trump Foundation Investigation

on April 26, 2018 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America

New York state investigators on Wednesday subpoenaed Michael Cohen as part of their probe into the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

“Last night the lawyer for Mr. Cohen went on TV and said he has information that state investigators may find interesting, which is what led to the subpoena,” an official from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration confirmed to TPM.

News of the subpoena, issued by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, was first reported by the Associated Press. It came one day after Cohen pleaded guilty on eight counts of financial wrongdoing and campaign finance violations in a separate criminal case brought by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office.

In a series of Tuesday evening press interviews, Cohen attorney Lanny Davis suggested that Cohen knew information relevant to both the state Trump Foundation probe and the federal investigation into Russia’s election interference.

James Gazzale, spokesperson for the tax department, said in a statement that the Manhattan District Attorney and New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office would be involved “as appropriate.” The Cuomo official told TPM that the tax department is leading the investigation into the Trump Foundation’s finances but that it could involve other state agencies.

Underwood’s office sued the foundation in June for engaging in a “pattern of persistent illegal conduct.” The alleged misconduct included self-dealing and illegally coordinating with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The tax department subsequently opened a probe into whether the foundation violated state tax laws.

Any criminal activity discovered during the tax investigation could be referred to a law enforcement agency, which could, in turn, present the findings to a grand jury, Cuomo officials told the New York Times in July.

The tax probe speaks to the unique risks Trump ran by so freely mixing his charity, presidential campaign, and real estate business. Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg served as the treasurer of the foundation and testified before the attorney general’s office as part of its lawsuit.

Cohen had no listed role with the foundation, but worked as Trump Organization executive vice president, Trump’s personal attorney, and assisted with the campaign.

Those intersecting roles mean Cohen could provide New York tax investigators with relevant information about how the company and charity’s finances overlapped.

A lawyer for Cohen did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.

Update: This piece has been updated to reflect the comments from the Cuomo administration official. The official initially said that other agencies aside from the Department of Taxation and Finance were working on the probe. The individual subsequently said they were not yet involved but could become so “as appropriate.”

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