Manhattan DA Obtains Trump Tax Returns

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February 25, 2021 9:43 a.m.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has obtained former President Trump’s tax returns after a years-long fight for the financial records, Vance’s office confirmed to TPM.

The move caps an effort that began after a grand jury empaneled by the Manhattan prosecutor issued a subpoena for the records in August 2019.

Vance spokesman Danny Frost told TPM that the records were seized on Monday after the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from the former president in the matter. The documents span millions of pages, CNN and NBC reported.

In enforcing the subpoena, Vance got Trump’s tax returns, extending from January 2011 to August 2019. But he got more: He also obtained access to reams of work papers surrounding the tax returns’ preparation, financial statements from the Trump organization, engagement agreements, and other communications around the documents’ preparation. 

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The seizure marks a victory for Vance after a long battle in which the Supreme Court effectively allowed Trump to delay the state criminal investigation until after his presidential term concluded.

The legal arguments launched by Trump and his personal attorneys seeking to block the subpoena took on an increasingly monarchist tone as the case wore on, with lead attorney William Consovoy arguing that any sitting president is immune from criminal process. This reached its apex when Convosoy told the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that Trump could not be investigated by the NYPD if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue. 

Mazars, Trump’s longtime accounting firm, fulfilled the subpoena after 17 months of forbearance due to the litigation. The same firm has also received congressional subpoenas for the former president’s tax returns, which remain bogged down in legal disputes launched by Trump to prevent any access to his financial history. 

Vance has suggested that the criminal grand jury investigation focuses on allegations of bank, insurance, and tax fraud, with a particular focus on whether Trump would inflate or deflate the value of his assets to lenders and other financial institutions. 

The New York Times obtained copies of the former president’s returns and published a series of articles examining them in October. The paper documented practices that experts found questionable, including hundreds of millions in losses that allowed Trump to reduce his effective tax rate to almost nothing. 

Vance seized documents which may shed light on the deliberations behind how Trump’s properties were valuated for banks and, potentially, for tax authorities.

But the records have also been important to the progress of Vance’s investigation. CNN reported that Vance had delayed bringing certain witnesses before the grand jury before the records could be analyzed. 

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