NY prosecutors zero in on Trump's alleged 'pattern of fraud' as investigation enters 'critical phase'
President Donald Trump during a press conference in Trump Tower (Screenshot)

New York prosecutors are focusing on whether former president Donald Trump artificially inflated the value of his company's assets in seeking loans from financial institutions, as their investigation enters a "critical phase," according to a new report from the New York Times.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who has overseen the investigation for more than three years, will leave office at the end of the year. Vance previously said he wanted to decide whether to charge Trump before his term expires, but now it appears the case may be left to his successor, Alvin Bragg.

According to the Times, Vance's prosecutors have recently issued subpoenas for records about the Trump Organization's hotels, golf clubs and office buildings.

"They recently interviewed a banker employed by Deutsche Bank, Mr. Trump's top lender," the Times reports. "And earlier this month, they told a top Trump executive who had been under scrutiny, Matthew Calamari, that they did not currently plan to indict him in the purported tax-evasion scheme that led to charges against Mr. Trump's company and its chief financial officer."

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The tax-evasion investigation, which led to charges against CFO Allen Weisselberg, was reportedly a detour from the original focus of the probe — Trump's statements about the value of his assets.

"If Mr. Vance's office concludes that Mr. Trump intentionally submitted false values to potential lenders, prosecutors could argue that he engaged in a pattern of fraud," the report states.

The Manhattan case is one of at least three ongoing criminal investigations focused on Trump and/or his company. Prosecutors in Georgia are looking into whether Trump illegally interfered with 2020 election results, while the district attorney's office in Westchester County, N.Y., is focused on whether the former president's company misled local officials about the value of a golf course to reduce its tax liability.

Trump has dismissed the Manhattan investigation a politically motivated "witch hunt."

During an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday night, Trump addressed the ongoing criminal investigations by saying: "If I fly over a state, I end up getting investigated. It's the craziest thing I've ever seen, because the local prosecutors work with the federal government, and they're Democrats."