Mazars revelations could make Trump the 'poster-child' for high-profile tax cheating: former US Attorney
Official White House photo by Tia Dufour.

Speaking to MSNBC on Monday, New York Times investigative reporter David Fahrenthold and former federal prosecutor and current law school professor Joyce White Vance explained the details behind the recent divorce between Donald Trump and his accounting firm Mazars USA.

Fahrenthold explained that the financial reports from Mazars were basically a kind of verification that Trump was as rich as he claimed to be and that these reports were often used to convince bankers to give him hefty loans.

"One of the important things is that they're going to have to prove intent," said Fahrenthold. "If Trump misrepresented something about himself or his assets or the lenders, you know, that it was wrong he was misrepresenting something. And without getting in his head how do you prove that? One way you might prove that is by showing the gatekeepers. He lied to the people that represented him in the outside world. The lawyers, the appraisers, the accountants. And they've gone after all three in this case, but the accountants are the most important. They're the ones that had the most documents, knew the most, spoke the most in the context that matters."

RELATED: George Conway spots detail in Mazars letter suggesting it's given NY AG over a half million documents

MSNBC host Chris Hayes asked Vance how prosecutors are able to determine whether Trump's false claims in his filings were simply mistakes or outright fraud.

Vance said that it could help prosecutors if there are particularly egregious differences in certain valuations -- and she cited the Seven Springs property in Westchester County, New York, where someone told Trump they were valuing the property between $29 and $50 million.

"They turned around and told Mazars that it was worth $161 million," Vance continued. "So, if this all holds up there is some insight into the sorts of internal and external documents that Mazars has now seen, and it's caused them to take this step. The bottom line here is this, there may be something to suggest it was a legitimate business practice as you point out. If not legitimate at least the banks did not rely on these documents too much. That they knew that the puffery was going on. But when it comes to filing taxes you cannot make that argument... one of the focuses in U.S. Attorney's offices around the country is prosecuting people who are in positions of trust who cheat on their taxes. Well, this is the poster-child case."

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