Several days ago, NBC News reported that prosecutors working for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. had met with President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, on matters related to the payment of hush money to women who allegedly had affairs with Trump and the falsification of records at the Trump Organization:
“The former personal attorney for President Donald Trump has entered into an agreement with New York City prosecutors to provide information about the president’s business operation, a source familiar with the situation told NBC News Wednesday.
“The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is investigating the possibility that the Trump Organization falsified business records, the source said.”
Shortly after that report came out, two former federal prosecutors noted that it’s clear to them Vance’s office is looking to indict Trump on charges of tax fraud.
Joyce Vance, who served as U.S. Attorney for Alabama, told MSNBC host Chris Matthews:
“If they were able to make some sort of a tax charge here … we could be looking at a lengthy violation for a felony. It’s certainly not a misdemeanor.
“The felony crime is a serious one, it carries a lot of collateral consequences. But most significantly is the threat there is jail time involved, and any amount of jail time in the state system in New York would be very unpleasant for the president of the United States.”
Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman was even more specific when it came to discussing exactly that investigators in Manhattan are preparing to do as it relates to Trump and the Trump Organization:
“I think we have a continuous theme here that pervades all of and it’s simply that all roads lead to Donald Trump’s tax returns. To make this a serious crime and a serious felony falsifying business records is usually associated with falsifying numbers so that they falsify in turn the tax returns.”
What Akerman said next should terrify Trump and anyone associated with the Trump Organization:
“So in this particular case it could very well be that they are looking at the false state tax returns that have been filed by the Trump Organization, filed by Donald Trump, and there could be all kinds of people who could have criminal liability here. If it’s just Donald Trump, obviously, the problem there is indicting a sitting president, although the Manhattan DA’s office is not under the same stricture as the Department of Justice. They could indict a sitting president. Secondly, there are lots of people around Donald Trump who could be indicted for aiding and abetting and assisting in this.”
Keep in mind these would be state charges. Trump cannot use Attorney General William Barr to short-circuit state investigations, and there is nothing in case law that says a sitting president cannot be indicted by a state authority. Also, Trump cannot pardon anyone in New York or another other state on charges brought by state of local authorities. He has no way out of being indicted in New York. None whatsoever.
Why has Trump so steadfastly refused to let anyone see his taxes? Because he knows they prove his many crimes.
Here’s Nick Akerman on MSNBC:
Nick Akerman explains how New York could be building a case against Donald Trump for filing false tax returns. pic.twitter.com/rxB2FS26DO
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) September 12, 2019