Donald Trump has fought tooth and nail to keep anyone from seeing his tax returns, and likely for good reason: even glimpses of them seemed to show a bumbling businessman who employed shady, and sometimes outright fraudulent, tactics to stay afloat. Were his taxes to wind up in the hands of, say, a Manhattan prosecutor, it could mean some serious trouble for him—particularly if he didn’t have the office of the presidency to protect him from legal liability.
Unfortunately for the ex-president, that’s precisely what’s happened: on Thursday, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance officially obtained Trump’s personal and corporate tax records and is likely poring over them this very instant as part of his sweeping probe into Trump’s financial affairs. Vance spokesman Danny Frost confirmed that the DA’s office had finally gained possession of the returns, which have long proven elusive for prosecutors and lawmakers alike.
The public probably won’t get a look at them for a while, if ever. But with Vance and his team now scouring the records, Trump’s legal vulnerability may have increased dramatically, as reflected by the desperate and aggrieved statement the former president released earlier this week after the Supreme Court rejected his last-ditch effort to keep the documents hidden. “All they focus on is the persecution of President Donald J. Trump,” he said in the statement, referring to himself in the third person. “I will fight on, just as I have, for the last five years…despite all of the election crimes that were committed against me.”
He went on to describe Vance’s probe as part of the massive “witch hunt” against him and likened it to “fascism.” “These are attacks by Democrats willing to do anything to stop the almost 75 million people…who voted for me in the election,” Trump wrote. “An election which many people, and experts, feel that I won.” (Many people, and experts, do not feel that Trump won the election.)
Vance, who’s leading just one of the probes now circling the former president, was initially looking into hush payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, each of whom claimed to have had affairs with Trump. But the scope of that inquiry, opened in 2018, has since expanded to include other aspects of Trump’s personal and professional financial affairs. The Manhattan prosecutor has not alleged any wrongdoing or filed charges against Trump and hasn’t said whether he plans to or not. But recent moves like the hiring of mob-busting prosecutor Mark Pomerantz have suggested Trump has cause to be concerned. His long-concealed tax information has been seen as potentially key to the investigation, and his attorneys filed a last-ditch emergency application to keep them under wraps. But the Supreme Court on Monday declined that request, paving the way for a grand jury to obtain the eight years of tax information Vance had requested. “The work continues,” Vance wrote after the Supreme Court decision.
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