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$750 in 2016, and $750 in 2017, that is how much Donald Trump, President of the United States of America has paid in federal income taxes. With a recent report stating that Trump has paid no income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, Trump's ongoing alleged tax fraud investigation could yield more information than ever before, but is this enough to send him to jail?
Since over a year ago, The Manhattan district attorney’s office has been in a quarrel with President Trump over his tax returns, and for the first time since this legal battle, they have found grounds to investigate him and his business for tax fraud.
Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the district attorney of Manhattan, offered The New York Times rare insight into this specific investigation into the President's taxes and his business. This case has never been released or disclosed due to the fact that it has been on hold due to the fight over a subpoena for 8 years of Trump's tax records, sent in August of 2019. Trump has disagreed to hand over these tax records, stating that “the subpoena should be blocked because it was too broad and amounted to political harassment from the Manhattan district attorney”
However, as of the 6th of October, a federal appeals panel has unanimously gone against Trump's argument and ruled that “the Manhattan district attorney can enforce a subpoena seeking President Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns” thus putting an end to this year-long fight over the subpoena and putting trump's financial records in the hands of state prosecutors. The appeals panel stated that “None of the President’s allegations, taken together or separately, are sufficient to raise a plausible inference that the subpoena was issued ‘out of malice or an intent to harass,’”.
Trump, infuriated by this ruling is expected to appeal this decision to the United States Supreme Court again, where he is currently in the process of adding in a new judge, Amy Coney Barrett, which may or may not sway his case. However, Mr.Vance and the Manhattans District Attorney's office have agreed to “not enforce the subpoena for 12 days in exchange for the President’s lawyers agreeing to move quickly.”
Trump has refuted this subpoena multiple times trying an abundance of arguments first stating that "as President of the United States, he is immune from criminal investigation." As this was a claim that has never needed to be brought up by a President, it was finally argued in the Supreme Court in July, however it was ruled that he was allowed to challenge the subpoena but there are still instances in which he would have to turn over his tax records.
After losing in multiple courts after the Supreme Court's ruling and the Federal Appeals Courts ruling for the President to hand over his tax records, Trump has still declined to release his tax returns to the public, “breaking with 40 years of White House tradition, and has vigorously fought attempts by Congress and state lawmakers to obtain his returns.” stated the New York Times.
This whole legal battle over one subpoena is a small component to the scope of a criminal inquiry, citing grand jury secrecy, headed by the Manhattans District Attorneys Office and Mr. Cyrus R. Vance Jr. Although the scope of this inquiry is disclosed, prosecutors have stated they are looking into “a range of potential crimes, including tax and insurance fraud and falsification of business records. They have said that the tax records are central to the investigation.”
Going back to Trump's claims against this subpoena, this leads people to believe that the investigation could be based upon “hush-money payments made in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. The payments were arranged by Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer, and personal lawyer.
With Trump in hot water with the New York Times investigation, President Trump’s former lawyers Micheal Cohen states that “the President’s whole “clan” could go to jail over the alleged tax evasion scandal, Including his children Ivanka, Donald Jr and Eric Trump ”. Trump, if these claims are true, could become the “first sitting President to go from the White House straight to prison.”
Cohen, Trump’s previous long-time lawyer “pleaded guilty in 2018 to lying to Congress, campaign violations and financial crimes and was sentenced to three years in prison.” However, the President has denied all claims against him in this case that ended with Cohen in jail.
With all being said, many lawyers, congressmen, and powerful individuals have stated that there is no question that Trump and his ‘clan’ will be sentenced to jail if the President loses this re-election this coming November. The only thing that is protecting Trump from jail time at the moment is his immunity as President of the United States, thus, if everyone were to vote, make the right decision, and think about the severity of some of the President’s actions over his term. There is a very high chance that once he steps out of office, he will be on his way straight to jail.