‘No pardons. No immunity’: Trump’s niece demands US president face justice should probes uncover crimes

·3-min read
 (Picture: Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
(Picture: Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Donald Trump’s niece has demanded her uncle face justice, should investigations into his business activities uncover crimes.

“No pardons. No immunity,” tweeted Dr Mary Trump, a psychologist who wrote a devastating book about her uncle in which she portrayed him as fundamentally unfit for office.

Dr Trump made the comment below a quote from a New York Times story detailing how two separate New York State investigations — one criminal, one civil — into Mr Trump and his businesses had expanded.

The newspaper, citing anonymous sources, reported that subpoenas were sent in recent weeks to the Trump Organization by New York’s attorney general and the Manhattan district attorney.

Both subpoenas requested records related to tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees, some of which appeared to have been paid to Ivanka Trump, the US president’s daughter.

The records requests followed recent reporting in The Times, based partly on two decades' worth of Mr Trump's tax filings, that the president had reduced his company's income tax liability over several years by deducting $26 million (£19.6m) in consulting fees as a business expense.

Records strongly suggested that $747,622 (£563,000) of those fees had been paid to Ivanka Trump through a company she owned at a time when she was also a Trump Organization executive.

If true, it would not necessarily pose a problem for Ivanka Trump herself, as long as she paid income tax on the consulting payments, which she reported publicly.

Picture: Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Picture: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

It could, however, raise questions about whether the Trump Organization's related tax deductions were allowable. The Internal Revenue Service has, in the past, pursued civil penalties over large consulting fee write-offs it found were made to dodge tax liability.

Though Mr Trump would not automatically gain immunity upon leaving office in January, presidential administrations have often been reluctant to see predecessors prosecuted.

President Gerald Ford famously pardoned Richard Nixon in 1974 for potential crimes committed in the Watergate Scandal, while George HW Bush pardoned a series of officials charged or convicted over the Iran-Contra affair, which occured during the second Reagan administration.

Barack Obama, even before taking office in 2009, insisted the US needed “to look forward as opposed to looking backwards” regarding reports of torture by CIA agents during the George W Bush administration. No charges were ever brought.

Late on Thursday, Ivanka Trump tweeted: “This is harassment pure and simple. This 'inquiry' by NYC democrats is 100% motivated by politics, publicity and rage. They know very well that there's nothing here and that there was no tax benefit whatsoever. These politicians are simply ruthless.

This fishing expedition is very clearly part of a continued political vendetta.”

Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten also described the probes as a “fishing expedition”, and told The Times: “Everything was done in strict compliance with applicable law and under the advice of counsel and tax experts. All applicable taxes were paid and no party received any undue benefit.”

Additional reporting by AP

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