According to a report from the Washington Post, Donald Trump is looking at a world of legal hurt after he steps down -- willingly or not -- next January when former Vice President Joe Biden assumes the presidency.
While New York Attorney General Letitia James has already gone on record and served notice that her department is looking into what she called an "investigation against the Trump Organization related to financial impropriety and that investigation is ongoing,” the Times is reporting that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. is still awaiting the president's tax returns which could be the key to criminal charges.
With the Post report noting, "After Jan. 20, Mr. Trump, who has refused to concede and is fighting to hold onto his office, will be more vulnerable than ever to a pending grand jury investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into the president’s family business and its practices, as well as his taxes," the report goes on to points out that "Mr. Vance’s inquiry could take on outsized importance if the incoming Biden administration, in seeking to unify the country and avoid the appearance of retaliation against Mr. Trump, shies away from new federal investigations."
The report points out that Democrat Vance may face pressure to give the president and his family a pass -- fearing it will look like partisan retribution -- after previously being criticized for "his 2012 decision not to seek an indictment against Mr. Trump’s children, Ivanka Trump and Donald J. Trump Jr., after they were accused of misleading investors in a condo-hotel project," with a new intervention that could come back to haunt him at election time if he lets the Trump family off the hook again.
According to Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, even if the Biden administration frowned upon criminal charges against the Trumps there would be little they could do to run interference.
“Vance has been the wild card here," he explained. "And there is very little that even a new administration that wants to let bygones be bygones could do formally to stop him.”
"The district attorney’s inquiry, which began in the summer of 2018, was first thought to focus on hush money payments made on behalf of Mr. Trump just days before the 2016 presidential election to an adult film star who had claimed she had an affair with him," the Times reports. "But the subpoena for Mr. Trump’s tax returns underscores an apparent greater focus on potential tax crimes, which tax experts, former prosecutors and defense lawyers agree can be among the toughest cases for the government to win at trial."
According to Daniel J. Horwitz, who prosecuted tax fraud cases, Trump and his family have one thing going for them -- the complexity of a tax case when brought before jurors.
“They [prosecutors] need a smoking gun or they need someone to flip,” he explained.
However, as Daniel R. Alonso who served as Vance’s top deputy from 2010 to 2014, explained, Trump will not like the time and money he will be spending defending himself once he's out of office.
“There are subpoenas and seizures and documents all over the place, as well as constant meetings with lawyers,” Alonzo warned. “It would certainly not be pleasant for him.”
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