Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Donald Trump with his ex-wife, Ivana, and his father Fred in 1988. (Photo: Jeffrey Asher/Getty Images)

Donald Trump with his ex-wife, Ivana, and his father Fred Trump in 1988. (Photo: Jeffrey Asher/Getty Images)

"That's How They Got Capone": Filing by NY Prosecutors Indicates Broader Probe Into Alleged Trump Tax Fraud

"This has to be how the story ends, right? With Trump going down for 'illegally inflating his net worth'?"

Jon Queally, staff writer

Court filings by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. on Monday led to renewed speculation that prosecutors in New York have targeted President Donald Trump with a wider probe into possible fraud or other financial crimes than was previously known—demanding eight years of personal as well as business tax documents just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a subpoena for such material must be honored.

According to the New York Times, the first news outlet to report the new developments:

The prosecutors did not directly identify the focus of their inquiry but said that "undisputed" news reports last year about Mr. Trump's business practices make it clear that the office had a legal basis for the subpoena. 

The reports, including investigations into the president's wealth and an article on the congressional testimony of his former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, said that the president may have illegally inflated his net worth and the value of his properties to lenders and insurers. Lawyers for Mr. Trump have said he did nothing wrong.

The clash over the subpoena comes less than a month after the Supreme Court, in a major ruling on the limits of presidential power, cleared the way for Mr. Vance's prosecutors to seek Mr. Trump's financial records.

It was reporting about Trump's financial maneuvers in the past—including indications of a vast effort to mislead both banks and the government over the value of certain assets or earnings—that formed the basis of an explosive Times exposé published in October of 2018. At the center of that reporting were documents provided to the newspaper by Trump's niece, Mary Trump, who recently published a tell-all book about her powerful uncle and the family dynamics in which both he and she grew up.

As the 2018 Times exposé alleges:

Much of [his inherited] money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents' real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.

Monday's filings in Manhattan, notes Axios, "suggests that Vance's investigation, which was believed to be examining hush money payments made by Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen during the 2016 election, is much broader in scope."

Responding to the developments on social media, veteran political journalist Dan Froomkin said: "This has to be how the story ends, right? With Trump going down for 'illegally inflating his net worth'? Otherwise it's just sadism by the Writers." To which Eric Gelman, editor of Bloomberg's Businessweek, retorted:

Other observers noted that it was the demand by Trump's own lawyers, in addition to aspects of how the Supreme Court ruled on the previous challenge, that likely compelled the District Attorney's office in New York to make it more clear that their ongoing investigation is much broader in scope and potentially must more serious.

"No citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court's majority opinion last month.

Shanlon Wu, a legal analyst for CNN, noted it was a "great example of Trump strategy back-firing—by forcing Manhattan DA's office to further detail/justify reasons for their subpoena they also forced disclosure of fact that Trump and his company under a live criminal investigation. Oops."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Ocasio-Cortez Says 'Elephant in the Room' Is Senate Democrats Blocking Their Own Party's Agenda

"The argument that we need to make here," the New York Democrat said of bipartisanship's dead end, "is that it's worth going it alone if we can do more for working people in this country."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


On Climate and Covid-19 Emergencies, G7 Judged a 'Colossal Failure' for All the World to See

"Never in the history of the G7 has there been a bigger gap between their actions and the needs of the world. In the face of these challenges the G7 have chosen to cook the books on vaccines and continue to cook the planet."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


NYC Mayoral Candidate Eric Adams Rebuked for 'Dangerous' 400-Students-to-1-Teacher Theory

"Defunding schools to the point that we have a 400:1 student-to-teacher ratio so we can bankroll another huge expansion in an already-multibillion dollar police budget," said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, "is how you build a school-to-prison pipeline."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


Lack of Patent Waiver Would Add Over $70 Billion to Cost of Vaccinating World: Oxfam

Most of that money, said a spokesperson for the group, "will go directly into the pockets" of Big Pharma shareholders.

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


Darnella Frazier Receives Pulitzer Special Citation 'for Courageously Recording the Murder of George Floyd'

"Without Darnella, Derek Chauvin never would have been tried and George Floyd would have been blamed by the state for his own death."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·