Trump claims bank fraud investigation is 'continuation of witch hunt'

Manhattan district attorney is seeking eight years of president's tax returns

Griffin Connolly
Tuesday 04 August 2020 00:15 BST
Trump claims bank fraud investigation is 'continuation of witch hunt'

President Donald Trump has dismissed a Manhattan prosecutor's bank fraud investigation into his businesses as "just a continuation of the witch hunt", claiming Democrats and intelligence holdovers from the Obama administration have been after him for years.

"They failed with Mueller, they failed with everything. They failed with Congress. They failed at every stage of the game," Mr Trump said at a press conference on Monday.

"This has been going on for three and a half, four years, even before I got in," he said.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit from the president that aims to shield him from disclosing his financial records.

Mr Vance called the lawsuit ”baseless” and claimed it “utterly failed” to prove a bad faith argument that was previously made to the court about why Mr Vance's office should be granted access to eight years of Mr Trump's tax filings.

Mr Vance’s district court filings point to ”undisputed” news reports about the president’s businesses and his wealth that would justify a legal basis for a subpoena to probe those records. The Manhattan DA's office did not identify the explicit focus of its investigation.

In 2019, the office subpoenaed the president’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for eight years of personal and business tax filings — which the president has refused to make public — following a criminal investigation into “hush money” payments arranged by the president’s former attorney, Michael Cohen.

Those alleged hush payments were an attempt to quash accusations from adult film star Stormy Daniels that she had had an affair with Mr Trump years earlier.

Mr Trump on Monday said he only learned of Mr Vance's latest move to obtain his taxes through news updates.

"I know nothing about it," he said of the details of the case.

Mr Trump has spent nearly his entirely presidency fending off accusations of corruption, including campaign finance crimes, financial crime and ethical mismanagement related to his business empire, and ties between his campaign and Russia, to name just a few.

Mr Cohen, who is roughly halfway through a prison sentence after pleading guilty to lying to Congress about an ultimately unsuccessful bid to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in 2016, has accused Mr Trump under congressional oath of inflating the value of his various properties in business negotiations, only to deflate them on his tax returns.

“It was my experience that Mr Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” Mr Cohen told the House Oversight Committee last year.

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