Manhattan district attorney subpoenas Trump's tax returns in probe of hush money payments

State prosecutors are seeking tax returns for the president and the Trump Organization dating back to 2011

Published September 17, 2019 9:14AM (EDT)


Prosecutors in New York have subpoenaed President Donald Trump's accounting firm for eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns, multiple news outlets reported Monday.

The subpoena, first reported by the New York Times, was issued by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office headed by Cy Vance late last month. It reportedly stems from Vance's criminal investigation into the Trump Organization's handling of hush money payments made to two women who alleged extramarital affairs with Trump in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election. Trump has denied having affairs with both women.

The subpoena was reportedly served to Mazars USA, an accounting firm used by the president. State prosecutors are reportedly seeking federal and state returns for the president and the Trump Organization dating back to 2011.

When asked about the subpoena as he left the White House on Monday, Trump told reporters: "I don't know anything about it." The president's attorney, Marc Mukasey, told NBC News: "We are evaluating the situation and will respond as appropriate."

Vance's investigation has been focused on $130,000 that Trump's former attorney and personal "fixer," Michael Cohen, admitted to paying adult film star Stormy Daniels just before the election. Cohen is currently serving a three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty last year to multiple crimes, including breaking federal campaign finance laws related to the hush money payments.

The state investigation, launched last month, began after federal prosecutors who charged Cohen closed their own inquiry into possible crimes committed by the Trump Organization or its executives. Vance's office is investigating whether the Trump Organization violated a New York state law in handling its records about the payments.

In particular, state prosecutors are probing whether the Trump Organization falsified its records in describing reimbursements to Cohen for the payments as a legal expense.

In addition to the Trump Organization, Vance's office also reportedly subpoenaed American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, which signed a non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors regarding its role in the hush money scheme.

AMI admitted to making a payment of $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal in concert with Trump's campaign in order to prevent her allegations of an affair from becoming public.

As part of its investigation, state prosecutors from Vance's office reportedly visited Cohen in prison in Otisville, N.Y., to seek assistance with their own investigation.

The probe is the latest sign of the potential legal issues hanging over Trump, his businesses, his family and his associates. House Democrats are suing to obtain the tax and bank records of Trump and his family members. New York Attorney General Letitia James has also subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for records related to the financing of four major Trump Organization projects and a failed effort to buy the NFL's Buffalo Bills.

Though Cohen is a key witness to investigators, his credibility has come under fierce scrutinyCohen pleaded guilty last year to lying to Congress about the president's plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

At his sentencing hearing late last year, Cohen said he took "full responsibility" for his actions, but claimed the hush money payments were made "in coordination" and "at the direction" of Trump in an effort to influence the election’s outcome.

By Shira Tarlo

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