Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has argued in court filings that allegations of tax and insurance fraud justify a grand jury probe into Donald Trump and his businesses.
Documents filed in the US Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday reveal the scope of the investigation, which has been embroiled in appeals and court hearings over the president’s tax records and financial documents for more than a year.
Prosecutors argued that “mountainous” allegations against the president – including misstatements about his business properties to insurers, potential lenders and the government – “could establish crimes” including tax and insurance fraud and falsification of business records, among others.
“Thus, even if the grand jury were testing the truth of public allegations alone, such reports, taken together, fully justify the scope of the grand jury subpoena at issue in this case,” prosecutors argued.
Mr Trump and his attorneys have called those requests for roughly eight years’ worth of financial statements “wildly overbroad" and part of a political vendetta.
In July, the US Supreme Court rejected the president’s previous arguments that he is immune from criminal investigations while in the White House.
The president and his legal team are now appealing a US District Court ruling to comply with subpoenas for those records, but prosecutors urged the federal appeals court to reject the president’s “recycled” arguments to block their release.
“At its core, it amounts to absolute immunity through a back door,” US District Victor Judge Marrero wrote last month. “Justice requires an end to this controversy.”
In a 53-page filing on Monday, prosecutors pointed to allegations and investigations from The New York Times and The Washington Post that discovered that the president had inflated his assets to lenders and spent millions of dollars in cash on “five houses, eight golf courses and a winery” despite mounting debts.
The filings also pulled from remarks from the president’s former attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen, who testified to Congress in February 2019 that the president "inflated his total assets when it served his purposes ... and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”
Oral arguments before a three-judge panel are scheduled for Friday, though a ruling could bring the case back to the Supreme Court, making it unlikely that a ruling would be decided before Election Day on 3 November.