Posted: September 22, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, SCOTUS | Tags: 11th Circuit appeals court, Clarence Thomas, declassification of documents, Ginni Thomas, Judge Aileen Cannon, Letitia James, New York Attorney Genral
Whew! Yesterday was quite a day! It began with New York Attorney General Tish James announcing a 250 million lawsuit against Trump, three of his children, the Trump Organization and two of its top employees; it ended with the 11th Circuit appeals court thoroughly rebuking Judge Loose Cannon and restoring the DOJ’s access to the classified documents needed for their criminal investigation of Trump and for the intelligence assessment of the damage caused by Trump’s thievery. Meanwhile Trump went on Fox News and incriminated himself in an insane interview with Sean Hannity. Here’s a sample from that hour-long clusterfuck:
Since I’m not a lawyer, it’s difficult for me to write about all this legal stuff, but I’ll do my best to post stories that explain what all this means.
First up, this piece by University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck at CNN: Opinion: How Trump’s terrible day went from bad to worse.
For most people, having the Attorney General of the nation’s fourth most populous state file a sweeping new lawsuit accusing you and your family of “staggering” fraud would be a terribly ominous development.
For former President Donald Trump, it wasn’t even the worst legal news he received on Wednesday. That came later in the evening, when a unanimous three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit lifted a district court ruling that had partially blocked the Justice Department’s ongoing criminal investigation into whether Trump unlawfully retained at Mar-a-Lago (and refused to return) a large tranche of government documents.
The immediate effect of the panel ruling is to clear the way for the Justice Department to continue its work. But the broader significance of Wednesday night’s ruling — significance that, at least for now, clearly transcends the possibility of what might come of the civil suit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James — is the fact that a panel that included two Trump appointees poured very cold water on the only arguments he had left to defend against the Mar-a-Lago search.
The issue before the Eleventh Circuit was whether to freeze part of the injunction that US District Court Judge Aileen Cannon had entered on September 5 — an injunction that purported to block the Justice Department from using most of the materials it recovered from its August 8 search of Mar-a-Lago until and unless they could be reviewed by a court-appointed special master. (The special master, Judge Raymond Dearie, expressed a fair amount of skepticism toward Trump’s claims at his first hearing on Tuesday).
What the three-judge panel–including two judges appointed by Trump–said:
Across 29 pages, the three-judge Eleventh Circuit panel made quick work of Cannon’s ruling — holding that the Justice Department was almost certain to succeed in having that ruling thrown out, and so should have the ruling frozen, at least as it applied to classified materials, while the appeals process runs its course.
Among other things, the panel, which included Judges Robin Rosenbaum (appointed by President Barack Obama) and Judges Britt Grant and Andrew Brasher (appointed by Trump), highlighted the absence of any evidence that Trump had declassified any of the classified information discovered at Mar-a-Lago, and also the extent to which that entire issue is a “red herring” for the broader debate over whether those documents belong to Trump or the government….
But it was in a more subtle section of the opinion that the panel handed Trump his most significant defeat. Across two pages and a footnote that non-legal-readers could be forgiven for skipping past, the three judges rejected, in unequivocal terms, claims made by Trump and his supporters (including the State of Texas, which had filed a highly unusual friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of 10 other red states) that the investigation into the former President and search of Mar-a-Lago were all just bad faith harassment from the Biden administration….
In other words, the three-judge panel on one of the more conservative federal appeals courts in the country looked at the Mar-a-Lago search and the broader criminal and national security investigation into the former President of the United States and could not “see any evidence in the record” to support the claim that the Biden administration was using its law enforcement authorities to harass Trump — as opposed to conducting a genuine, above-the-board investigation into serious potential violations of federal criminal statutes.
You might also check out this straight news piece by Charlie Savage, et al. at The New York Times:
In a strongly worded 29-page decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit set aside key parts of an order by a Florida federal judge that has kept the department from using about 100 files with classification markings in its inquiry into whether Mr. Trump illegally retained national defense documents and obstructed repeated efforts to recover them.
The appeals court also agreed with the Justice Department that Mr. Trump’s lawyers — and an independent arbiter recently appointed to review the seized materials — need not look at the classified documents that the F.B.I. carted away from Mr. Trump’s estate, Mar-a-Lago, on Aug. 8.
The Justice Department “argues that the district court likely erred in exercising its jurisdiction to enjoin the United States’ use of the classified records in its criminal investigation and to require the United States to submit the marked classified documents to a special master for review,” a three-judge panel of the appeals court wrote. “We agree.”
The decision by the Atlanta-based court was a repudiation of the decision by Judge Aileen M. Cannon, whom Mr. Trump appointed to the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, to broadly intervene in the Justice Department’s investigation. The appellate ruling will permit the arbiter, known as a special master, to review most of the more than 11,000 files seized from Mar-a-Lago, but allow prosecutors unfettered access to the smaller batch of classified records.
Charlie Savage also reposted on Twitter an earlier article on how the declassification process works.
This piece at Just Security is a good explainer on the New York Attorney General’s lawsuit against the Trump family and businesses: Has a Trump Tipping Point Been Reached? Analyzing The NY Attorney General’s Case Against Trump.
In the last month, the array of investigations involving Donald J. Trump and many of Trump’s associates and family members has reached an intense pitch. Today another bombshell detonated—one that may prove to be the most devastating.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced the filing of a monumental civil enforcement action against Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, the Trump Organization and many other Trump affiliates.
The sanctions sought by the New York Office of the Attorney General (the “OAG”) are sweeping and potentially devastating: disgorgement of $250 million in profits; the cancellation of business certificates for Trump’s corporate entities; appointment of an independent monitor at the Trump Organization; a 5-year ban on Trump and the Trump Organization entering into any New York commercial real estate transactions or from applying for any loans from any New York entity; permanently banning Trump and his adult children from serving as an officer or director of a New York corporation. In addition to the potential civil penalties associated with today’s complaint, AG James also announced criminal referrals to the Southern District of New York and to the IRS. Penalties resulting from those referrals could result in substantial fines, and potentially even imprisonment.
With today’s filing of this enforcement action, it is important to consider the factual and legal bases for the claims, and how it could serve as a tipping point in cases against Trump, especially in light of the many other existing federal and state investigations.
Read the rest at Just Security. Here’s John Buss’s commentary:
What about the January 6 Committee? What are they up to? Yes, more bad news for Trump–and Mark Meadows too.
From the article:
It’s not yet clear what changed for Thomas and her attorney to now agree to this interview. The 64 thousand dollar question is how will this affect her husband Clarence? Will John Roberts finally decide to deal with him? Probably not, but you never can tell.
More news, links only:
Analysis by Stephen Collinson at CNN: Biden’s new mission: Heading off any possibility of a nuclear crisis with Russia.
The Washington Post: Over 1,300 arrests reported as Russians protest military mobilization.
CNN: Russia’s military divided as Putin struggles to deal with Ukraine’s counteroffensive, US sources say.
Analysis by Brad Lendon at CNN: Putin can call up all the troops he wants, but Russia can’t train or support them.
AP News: At least 9 killed as Iran protests spread over woman’s death.
NBC News: Enthusiasm for upcoming midterms is at all-time high, NBC News poll shows.
The New York Times: Trump Support Remains Unmoved by Investigations, Poll Finds.
Miami Herald: Operatives linked to DeSantis promised to fly migrants to Delaware — but left them stranded.
NBC News: House passes bill to prevent stolen elections, despite strong GOP opposition.
Ashton Pittman at the Mississippi Free Press on the Brett Favre scandal: Ex-Mississippi Welfare Leader Pleads Guilty To Federal, State Crimes In Exchange For Cooperation.
NBC News: Hurricane Fiona intensifies to Category 4 as Puerto Rico contends with aftermath.
Have a tremendous Thursday, Sky Dancers!!
Posted: September 15, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Donald Trump | Tags: Department of Justice, Elena Kagen, Gregg Abbott, human trafficking, immigration, January 6 Committee, Judge Aileen Cannon, Letitia James, Mark Meadows, Martha's Vineyard, Peter Baker, Ron DeSantis, Supreme Court, Susan Glasser, Trump books, VP Kamala Harris
Once again, the there is so much news that I can’t possibly address everything. The Republican governors of Florida and Texas are engaging in childish behavior that actually could be categorized as human trafficking. Investigations of Trump at the DOJ, the New York Attorney General’s office, and the House January 6 Committee are moving forward. Last night CNN broke the news that Trump’s final chief of staff Mark Meadows is cooperating with a subpoena from the DOJ.
Sometime today, we should get a decision from Judge Loose Cannon about whether she will name a special master to examine government documents that Trump stole; if she orders a third party to look at highly classified documents, the DOJ will appeal to the 11th Circuit Court. Justice Elena Kagen issued a scathing critique of the Supreme Court. And finally, there are revelations from a new book by married reporters Peter Baker and Susan Glasser. I’ll get to as many of these stories as I can.
DeSantis and Abbott Use Migrants in Despicable Stunts
The Vineyard Gazette: Planeloads of Venezuelan Migrants Arrive at Martha’s Vineyard Airport.
Planes carrying approximately 48 migrants from Venezuela and Colombia landed unexpectedly at Martha’s Vineyard Airport Wednesday afternoon. Island officials and volunteers quickly rallied to find temporary shelter for the group.
“We’re immigrants,” Eliase, who said he was from Venezuela, told the Gazette. “We came here because of the situation in our country, for the economy, for work, for lots of things. I came here walking. We went through 10 different countries until we got to Texas. There a refugee association put us in a plane and told us there would be work and housing here. I feel good, despite everything. We spent four days in Texas so it’s good to be here.”
State Sen. Julian Cyr said the planes originated in San Antonio, Tex., and appeared to be part of a larger campaign to divert migrants from border states.
“Just like the reverse freedom rides in the 1960s, this endeavor is a cruel ruse that is manipulating families who are seeking a better life,” Senator Cyr said. “No one should be capitalizing on the difficult circumstances that these families are in and contorting that for the purposes of a “gotcha” moment.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis later issued a statement to media outlets confirming that the airlift “was part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.”
A coalition of emergency management officials, faith groups, nonprofit agencies and county and town officials were organizing food and shelter for the migrants, who spent Wednesday night at St. Andrews Church in Edgartown. The Salvation Army, among others, was providing food.
In a news release Thursday morning, the Martha’s Vineyard Humanitarian Response effort asked that inquiries about how to help be sent by email to EMD@dcsoma.org.
DeSantis used taxpayer money for this, and the immigrants were never even in Florida.
More from NPR this morning: Migrants on Martha’s Vineyard flight say they were told they were going to Boston.
The unannounced flight drew anger from Massachusetts officials.
“We have the governor of Florida … hatching a secret plot to send immigrant families like cattle on an airplane,” said state Sen. Dylan Fernandes, who represents Martha’s Vineyard. “Ship them women and children to a place they weren’t told where they were going and never alerted local officials and people on the ground here that they were coming. It is an incredibly inhumane and depraved thing to do.”
NPR was able to interview three of the migrants late Wednesday. “They (the migrants) told us they had recently crossed the border in Texas and were staying at a shelter in San Antonio,” NPR’s Joel Rose said on today’s Morning Edition.
The migrants said a woman they identified as “Perla” approached them outside the shelter and lured them into boarding the plane, saying they would be flown to Boston where they could get expedited work papers. She provided them with food. The migrants said Perla was still trying to recruit more passengers just hours before their flight.
Andres Duarte, a 30-year-old Venezuelan, said he had recently crossed the border into Texas and eventually went to a shelter in San Antonio.
“She (Perla) offered us help. Help that never arrived,” Andres said. “Now we are here. We got on the plane with a vision of the future, of making it.” He went on to explain why he boarded the plane with so little information in hand. “Look, when you have no money and someone offers help, well, it means a lot.”
WBUR: 2 busloads of migrants dropped off near VP Harris’ residence.
Two buses of migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border were dropped off near Vice President Kamala Harris’ home in residential Washington on Thursday morning in the bitter political battle over the Biden administration’s immigration policies.
It wasn’t immediately clear which Republican leader had sent them. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been busing migrants out of Texas to cities with Democratic mayors as part of a political strategy this year because he claims there are too many arrivals over the border to his state. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey also has adopted this policy, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also got in on the act recently. It was first dreamed up by former President Donald Trump.
About two dozen men and women stood outside the U.S. Naval Observatory at dawn, clutching clear plastic bags of their belongings brought with them over the border, before moving to a nearby church. Harris’ office had no immediate comment.
This story is still developing.
Multiple Trump Investigations
CNN: Exclusive: Mark Meadows complied with DOJ subpoena in January 6 probe.
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has complied with a subpoena from the Justice Department’s investigation into events surrounding January 6, 2021, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN, making him the highest-ranking Trump official known to have responded to a subpoena in the federal investigation.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows…on October 30, 2020… (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
Meadows turned over the same materials he provided to the House select committee investigating the US Capitol attack, one source said, meeting the obligations of the Justice Department subpoena, which has not been previously reported.
Last year, Meadows turned over thousands of text messages and emails to the House committee, before he stopped cooperating. The texts he handed over between Election Day 2020 and Joe Biden’s inauguration, which CNN previously obtained, provided a window into his dealings at the White House, though he withheld hundreds of messages, citing executive privilege.
In addition to Trump’s former chief of staff, one of Meadows’ top deputies in the White House, Ben Williamson, also recently received a grand jury subpoena, another source familiar with the matter tells CNN. That subpoena was similar to what others in Trump’s orbit received. It asked for testimony and records relating to January 6 and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Williamson previously cooperated with the January 6 committee. He declined to comment to CNN.
Meadows’ compliance with the subpoena comes as the Justice Department has ramped up its investigation related to January 6, which now touches nearly every aspect of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss – including the fraudulent electors plot, efforts to push baseless election fraud claims and how money flowed to support these various efforts, CNN reported this week.
The New York Times: N.Y. Attorney General May Sue Trump After Rejecting Settlement Offer.
The New York attorney general’s office has rebuffed an offer from Donald J. Trump’s lawyers to settle a contentious civil investigation into the former president and his family real estate business, setting the stage for a lawsuit that would accuse Mr. Trump of fraud, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.
The attorney general, Letitia James, is also considering suing at least one of Mr. Trump’s adult children, the people said. Ivanka, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., have all been senior executives at Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization.
The likelihood of a lawsuit grew this month after Ms. James’s office rejected at least one settlement offer from Mr. Trump’s lawyers, the people said. While the Trump Organization for months has made overtures to the attorney general’s office — and the two sides could still reach a deal — there is no indication that a settlement will materialize anytime soon.
Ms. James, a Democrat who is running for re-election in November, is focused on whether Mr. Trump fraudulently inflated the value of his assets and has mounted a three-and-a-half-year inquiry that has cemented her as one of the former president’s chief antagonists. Mr. Trump, who has denied all wrongdoing and derided the investigation as a politically motivated witch hunt, has fired back at her, filing an unsuccessful lawsuit to block her inquiry and calling Ms. James, who is Black, a racist.
A lawsuit from Ms. James would supercharge their drawn-out battle, offering her an opportunity to deliver a significant blow to the former president and his business, which she vowed before taking office to “vigorously investigate.”
Axios: Jan. 6 panel’s subpoena yields “thousands” of Secret Service records.
The chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack said Wednesday that the panel has received “thousands of exhibits” from Secret Service agents in response to its July subpoena of the agency.
Why it matters: Uncovering information from the Secret Service has been a major focus for the panel since testimony during its public hearings in June and July revealed the agency’s role in key events on Jan. 6.
Driving the news: Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters that the materials obtained are “a combination of a number of text messages, radio traffic … thousands of exhibits.”
— Thompson said the the materials consist “primarily” of texts from agents on Jan. 5 and 6, but declined to go into further detail because the committee is still reviewing them.
— “The tranches we’ve received have been significant,” he said. “It’s a work in progress.”
— Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), another committee member, said on MSNBC on Wednesday “it’s been a large volume of information that we really pressed hard for the agency to release.”
CNN: House January 6 committee seeks more John Eastman emails.
The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack is seeking another 3,200 pages of emails from John Eastman, the Trump attorney who spearheaded the far-fetched legal theory that then-Vice President Mike Pence could block Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s win.
The committee told a federal judge in California in a filing late Wednesday that it needs the additional documents “so that it may complete its efforts, including preparation of the final report” before the end of the year.
In the filing, House counsel Douglas Letter asked US District Court Judge David Carter to review the remaining batch of emails and decide whether Eastman’s claims of executive privilege are valid.
“In light of this exchange over the past month or so, it seems clear that further consultation with Plaintiff’s counsel will not result in the Select Committee receiving the material that it seeks in a timely manner,” the filing states. “Accordingly, the Select Committee now moves for this Court to review and rule on Plaintiff’s claims of privilege” for the remaining documents.
Judge Loose Cannon
U.S. News: Judge’s Rulings Poised to Shape Trump Document Investigation.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon is expected to announce shortly a third-party attorney to review hundreds of confidential documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence last month, how long that special master will have to review the material and whether the Justice Department will be allowed to continue its investigation in the name of national security – highly anticipated decisions that will set the course of the prominent federal investigation.
The Justice Department has asked that Cannon rule on these matters by Thursday or it will appeal her ruling appointing a special master to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
Earlier this week, Trump’s lawyers told the judge that the Justice Department should not be able to continue its review of classified material taken from Mar-a-Lago. In the 21-page filing, his legal team attempted to discredit the federal investigation, which they called “a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control,” and repeated previous claims that Trump had the ability to declassify documents while president as well as broad authority to control his records – even after he left office.
Judge Aileen Cannon
The Justice Department filed a motion on Tuesday in response, slamming Trump’s lawyers for attempting to delay and discredit the investigation into his mishandling of national security documents, which they argued could cause “irreparable harm” to national security.
“Plaintiff [Trump] has characterized the government’s criminal investigation as a ‘document storage dispute’ or an ‘overdue library book scenario,’” the Justice Department said in a court filing. “In doing so, Plaintiff has not addressed the potential harms that could result from mishandling classified information or the strict requirements imposed by law for handling such materials.”
As it stands, the Justice Department said it would accept one of the three judges Trump’s legal team proposed as a special master, Judge Raymond Dearie, a nominee of former President Ronald Reagan who has served as a federal judge in New York since the 1980s. He retired in 2011 and is now a senior judge on the circuit. Trump rejected the candidates put forth by the Justice Department.
Justice Elena Kagan Speaks
Politico: Kagan repeats warning that Supreme Court is damaging its legitimacy.
Justice Elena Kagan warned again on Wednesday that unsound reasoning and politically convenient conclusions have infected the Supreme Court’s recent opinions and are doing damage to the court’s standing with the American public.
“When courts become extensions of the political process, when people see them as extensions of the political process, when people see them as trying just to impose personal preferences on a society irrespective of the law, that’s when there’s a problem — and that’s when there ought to be a problem,” Kagan said during an event at Northwestern University School of Law.
Kagan has offered similar criticism of the high court on several occasions over the past summer, following its momentous, 5-4 decision in June overturning Roe v. Wade and wiping out a federal constitutional right to abortion that had been recognized for nearly half a century.
However, the recent criticisms from Kagan, an appointee of President Barack Obama and a former Harvard Law School dean, now seem more pointed because they come just days after Chief Justice John Roberts expressed concern publicly that the court’s reputation is being unfairly battered.
In her remarks on Wednesday, Kagan did not mention the landmark abortion ruling she dissented from in June, but she did refer to other decisions where, she said, the court had colored outside the lines….
Among them was a ruling the court delivered on the final day of decisions in June, striking down a key element of the Biden administration’s climate change policy on the ground that Congress should have been more explicit if it was granting the Environmental Protection Agency authority over such a “major question.”
Revelations from New Book by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser
Book review by David Greenberg at the New York Times: A Sober Look at the ‘Cartoonishly Chaotic’ Trump White House.
“His job wasn’t to get things done but to stop certain things from happening, to prevent disaster.” This line from Peter Baker and Susan Glasser’s detail-rich history of the Trump administration, “The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021,” technically applies to his first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. But in truth it describes any of several dozen beleaguered helpmates to the former president, whose propensity for petulant rage kept Washington in a fit of indignation and the White House in a mode of perpetual damage control for the better part of four years. Comprehensively researched and briskly told, “The Divider”is a story of disasters averted as well as disasters realized.
Squeezing the tumultuous events of the long national fever dream that was the Donald Trump presidency between two covers — even two covers placed far apart, as is the case with this 752-page anvil — would tax the skills of the nimblest journalist. Yet the husband-and-wife team of Baker and Glasser pull it off with assurance. It’s all here: the culture wars and the corruption, the demagogy and the autocrat-love, the palace intrigue and the public tweets, the pandemic and the impeachments (plural).
To be sure, asking readers in 2022 to revisit the Sturm und Drang of the Trump years may seem like asking a Six Flags patron, staggering from a ride on the Tsunami, to jump back on for another go. But those with strong stomachs will find a lot they didn’t know, and a lot more that they once learned but maybe, amid the daily barrage of breaking-news banner headlines, managed to forget.
Read more at the NYT.
Links to revelations from the book:
Axios: Trump scoops from Peter Baker and Susan Glasser’s new book.
The Guardian: Trump chief of staff used book on president’s mental health as White House guide.
The Washington Post: Trump told Jordan’s king he would give him the West Bank, shocking Abdullah II, book says.
CNN: ‘You’re blowing this’: New book reveals Melania Trump criticized her husband’s handling of Covid.
That’s it for me today. What are your thoughts, and what other stories are you following?
Posted: May 20, 2021 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Allen Weisselberg, Cyrus vance Jr., Donald Trump, January 6 commission, Jennifer Weisselberg, Letitia James, Matt Gaetz, Michael Cohen, Trump crime family, Trump Organization
By Arne Kavli
We appear to be inching closer to the possibility that Trump and his minions could actually be prosecuted. It hasn’t happened yet, but news has broken over the past few days that suggests that real accountability could be coming for the Trump crime family.
Bill Chappelle, Andrea Bernstein, and Ilya Marritz at NPR: What We Know So Far About The Trump Organization Criminal Investigation.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating former President Donald Trump’s business, the Trump Organization, “in a criminal capacity,” her office says, ratcheting up scrutiny of Trump’s real estate transactions and other dealings.
The state attorney general is joining forces with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who has been conducting a separate criminal inquiry into Trump’s business practices and possible insurance or financial fraud as well as alleged hush money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Trump before he became president….
Dorothy Weir Young, “Seated Girl Reading Newspaper,” 1930
The new collaboration between the state and local offices is an unusual event in itself: In New York, the attorney general and the district attorney have historically been rivals. But in this case, they’re working together.
Two assistant attorneys general have now joined the district attorney’s team of prosecutors. They’re all trying to unravel troves of complicated information, including millions of pages of tax returns and other documents related to how the Trump Organization operates in the U.S. as well as its sprawling international enterprises.
With the shift in focus from James’ office, we now know that both of these prosecution teams are making a determined and coordinated effort to sift through evidence of possible crimes.
Read the whole article. It’s a good summary of where things stand right now. Here’s the latest breaking news on the investigations:
The New York Times: Top Trump Executive Under Criminal Investigation Over Taxes.
The New York attorney general’s office has been criminally investigating the chief financial officer of former President Donald J. Trump’s company for months over tax issues, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The office of the attorney general, Letitia James, notified the Trump Organization in a January letter that it had opened a criminal investigation related to the chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, the people said. The investigators have examined whether taxes were paid on fringe benefits that Mr. Trump gave him, including cars and tens of thousands of dollars in private school tuition for at least one of Mr. Weisselberg’s grandchildren….
Auguste Macke, Woman reading
The focus on perks and Mr. Weisselberg overlaps with the Manhattan district attorney’s long-running criminal fraud investigation of Mr. Trump and his family business. The district attorney’s office has been investigating the extent to which Mr. Trump handed out fringe benefits to some of his executives, including Mr. Weisselberg, and whether taxes were paid on those perks, The New York Times previously reported.
In recent weeks, Ms. James’s office suggested to the company in a new letter that it had broadened the criminal investigation beyond the focus on Mr. Weisselberg, one of the people said. It was unclear how the inquiry had widened.
In general, fringe benefits — which can include cars, flights and club memberships — are taxable, though there are some exceptions. Companies are typically responsible for withholding such taxes from an employee’s paycheck….
In addition to the fringe benefits, Ms. James and the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., have examined whether Mr. Trump’s company inflated the value of his properties to obtain favorable loans and lowered the values to reduce taxes.
More details from CNN: