REporter's Notebook

How The Various New York Trump Foundation Probes Overlap

on May 30, 2018 in New York City.
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 30: Michael Cohen, a longtime personal lawyer and confidante for President Donald Trump, arrives with his lawyers at the United States District Court Southern District of New York on May 30, 2018 ... NEW YORK, NY - MAY 30: Michael Cohen, a longtime personal lawyer and confidante for President Donald Trump, arrives with his lawyers at the United States District Court Southern District of New York on May 30, 2018 in New York City. According to a filing submitted to the court Tuesday night by special master Barbara Jones, federal prosecutors investigating Cohen are set to receive 1 million files from three of his cellphones that were seized last month. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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August 23, 2018 10:51 am

There are so many investigative bodies looking into the Donald J. Trump Foundation and Michael Cohen’s activities right now that it’s getting hard to keep track.

Here’s what we learned after talking to sources in New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office, the Cuomo administration, and the New York Department of Taxation and Finance.

The Attorney General’s office has led the charge against the foundation, filing a civil suit in June that accused the charity of self-dealing and illegal coordination with the 2016 Trump campaign. The AG has an active, ongoing investigation into the foundation, and said it will “seek a criminal referral from the appropriate state agency as necessary.”

That same office in May negotiated a generous plea deal with Cohen’s former taxi business partner, Gene Freidman, that required Freidman to cooperate with both state and federal prosecutors.

The New York Department of Taxation and Finance has since mid-summer been carrying out its own probe into whether the Trump Foundation violated tax law. On Wednesday, it announced it had issued a subpoena to Cohen as part of that inquiry.

A spokesperson for Cuomo’s office told TPM that other state agencies besides the tax department could get involved as the probe proceeds.

The tax department cannot, of course, prosecute any matters on its own. Any wrongdoing its investigators discover will be referred to the AG’s staff for prosecution as part of their ongoing investigation.

That type of referral from the tax department is how the AG managed to carry out and secure their Freidman prosecution and plea deal.

A third entity, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, is also looking into possible wrongdoing by the foundation, and sharing information with the AG’s office and tax department “as appropriate.”

And, of course, these investigations are all separate from the proceedings that saw Cohen plead guilty in court this week: Those are being carried out by the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York following a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.

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