New York Prosecutors Publicly Declare A Criminal Investigation of the Trump Organization

The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James has publicly released a statement that it is now pursuing a criminal rather than a purely civil investigation against the Trump Organization. The investigation is being handled in conjunction with the Manhattan district attorney’s office. The investigations appear to focus on tax and business dealings.  While I have challenged claims of a long litany “slam dunk” crimes related to Russia or Ukraine (or even tweets) that legal experts declared regularly on outlets like CNN and MSNBC, I have long opposed Trump’s effort to withhold his tax records and viewed these tax and transactional crimes as the greatest threat for actual prosecution. Tax and fraud cases are easier to prosecute and more difficult to defend in court.

James’ office has been investigating the Trump Organization since 2019 and announced this week that the civil investigation now has a criminal component:

“We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA.”

Investigating a large organization on tax and fraud issues tends to be a target-rich environment. Real estate is an area notorious for the manipulation of assets and their stated worth. Assets are often undervalued to reduce tax exposure or overvalued to secure bank loans. The greatest danger is when the same assets are involved in such reporting controversies.

Investigators have deposed a slew of Trump Organization officials including Eric Trump, the former President’s son, and Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.

There could also be upcoming privilege fights over demands for information from tax attorney Sheri Dillon.

One objection is that this is selective prosecution. We previously discussed that issue in the context of James’ investigation of the National Rifle Association. James also ran on the pledge to relentlessly pursue Trump and his aides. In this controversy, the Trump counsel is likely to argue that such reporting tactics are common to the real estate field. However, selective prosecution claims are notoriously difficult to argue. Selective prosecution is a sometimes a viable defense when it is used against a group with discriminatory purpose. See United States v. Armstrong, 517 U.S. 456, 116 S. Ct. 1480 (1996), Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886).  The key is that the proof of a prosecution “directed so exclusively against a particular class of persons … with a mind so unequal and oppressive” that it violates the guarantee of equal prosecution under the law.

Likewise, malicious prosecution claims are overwhelmingly rejected. This is usually the basis for a civil lawsuit after prevailing in the criminal system. However, it requires an extremely high showing of abuse. In the criminal system, courts tend to disregard arguments based on the motivations of prosecutors. State prosecutors like James are elected and are often motivated by politics. However, courts are focused on whether the underlying allegations would constitute a crime if proven.

As a defense attorney, I would be more focused on cooperative agreements at this stage, particularly with Weisselberg.  Tax and fraud cases are comparatively easier to prove than crimes like obstruction but his cooperation could make this a slam dunk.  Moreover, he could convert an investigation into the Trump Organization and make it an investigation into Trump himself. The question is whether Trump was or should have been aware of illegality in the reporting of assets.

185 thoughts on “New York Prosecutors Publicly Declare A Criminal Investigation of the Trump Organization”

  1. Pennsylvania Votes to Limit Governor’s Emergency Powers
    BY LILY SUN May 22, 2021 Updated: May 22, 2021 biggersmaller Print
    Pennsylvania voted to amend its Constitution on May 18 in response to their governor’s use of emergency declarations to decide laws during the pandemic. As more than two million Pennsylvanians voted in a primary election, they passed two constitutional amendments in ballot questions to restrict the governor’s emergency declaration powers to give some power back to the legislature

    Anonymous the Stupid, you had so much interest in the last one, I figured I would present you with a bonus present.

  2. Why Are Democrats So Afraid of Election Audits? Democrats claim election audits like the one in Arizona are an existential threat to democracy, but it’s difficult to see how—unless they reveal that our elections have been hijacked. By Charlie Kirk

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    The increasingly desperate attacks on the ongoing audit in Maricopa County, Arizona—particularly those intended to undermine the credibility of the auditors—show just how much the Democratic Party establishment fears the whole process. Their entire argument is based on sarcasm, scorn, and scare quotes.

    The auditors are inspecting the paper that ballots were printed on? They must believe in a far-fetched conspiracy theory!

    The auditors are checking to make sure the ballots don’t have watermarks that are not supposed to be there? They must be members of fringe online message boards!

    The audit is being funded primarily by private donations? It must be an elaborate “grift” rather than a serious fact-finding effort (not to mention they need the funds to fend off the litany of lawsuits they’re facing).

    By smearing the auditors as corrupt and/or inept, and the audit itself as a partisan stunt, leftists are hoping they can discredit the process and convince Americans to stop asking pesky questions about whether any laws were broken or procedural loopholes exploited during the 2020 elections. That’s the way people respond to questions when they don’t want anyone to know the answers.

    It’s not just the Arizona audit, either. Democrats and their media allies are already fully engaged in a crusade to preemptively impugn the legitimacy of any audits that might be conducted in other states, describing conservative support for audits in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere as “a bid to bolster former President Donald Trump’s lies about widespread fraud in the 2020 election.”

    If they really believe the 2020 elections were “the most secure in American history,” then they should welcome audits as a way of substantiating that claim. Indeed, they should even be celebrating audits run by Republicans, since their conclusions will carry so much more weight with GOP voters. That said, the Arizona auditors have practically been begging Democrats to participate, but the Democrats have only been interested in attacking the process from afar.


  3. OT: Regarding prior discussions on Biden corruption.
    Former FBI director Louis Freeh gave $100,000 to a private trust for Joe Biden’s grandchildren

    Former FBI director Louis Freeh gave $100,000 to a private trust for Joe Biden’s grandchildren and met with the then-Vice President in 2016 ‘to explore with him some future work options’, emails reveal.

    Freeh also spoke with then-Vice President Biden in 2016 ‘to explore with him some future work options’, according to the bombshell communications

    The emails suggest Freeh was trying to establish a future business relationship with Biden – and the White House has failed to disclose to whether Joe Biden discussed private business with Freeh while in office.

    According to the messages, obtained by from Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop, the former FBI director was working for three foreign businessmen and officials at the time, who were all later convicted of various corruption charges, including a multi-billion-dollar ransacking of a Malaysian wealth fund.


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