Johnston in the NY Times: How to Make Trump’s Tax Returns Public
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Johnston in the NY Times: How to Make Trump’s Tax Returns Public

New York’s Cuomo Has the Evidence, the Case and the Power to Open Up Trump’s Shadowy Finances

This essay appears in The New York Times.

David Cay Johnston

On June 14, the New York State attorney general, Barbara Underwood, filed a civil complaint against President Trump and his three oldest children, accusing them of “persistently illegal conduct” in using the Donald J. Trump Foundation as “little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality.”

Ms. Underwood believes there is abundant evidence to bring criminal charges against Mr. Trump as well. She made that position very clear in the letters she sent to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission in Washington recommending “further investigation and legal action.”

ACTION BOX/What You Can Do About It

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Tell New York to open a criminal investigation of Trump.

Several officials have the legal authority to refer Donald Trump, his three oldest children and others for criminal tax investigation.

First is New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who can direct the New York State Police or  New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to refer the matter to Attorney General Barbara Underwood for investigation of tax crimes. Underwood could then examine the tax returns and, if appropriate, seek indictments.

Cuomo takes email via this form. His Twitter is @NYGovCuomo.

Call his office at 518-474-8390.

Cuomo’s mailing address is The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo / Governor of New York State / NYS State Capitol Building / Albany, N.Y. 12224.

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr.

Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney, also has authority to pursue tax crimes against the state and city.

Call Vance’s office at 212-335-9000. His Twitter is @ManhattanDA.

Vance’s mailing address is One Hogan Place, New York, N.Y. 10013.


Ms. Underwood sent those letters, at the same time she filed the civil complaint, because New York state law does not grant her automatic authority to initiate criminal investigations. Her criminal referral to Washington noted that it would be a crime for the president to interfere in such an investigation. However, given Mr. Trump’s assertion that he has the power to halt any criminal inquiry and to pardon himself for federal crimes, a criminal investigation by any part of the federal executive branch seems highly unlikely.

The attorney general could, however, easily gain that authority. All that’s needed is for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Police or the state Department of Taxation and Finance to make a request, and the authority would be granted to her. Criminal jurisdiction also rests with Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney. Mr. Vance has shown no interest, so far, in investigating other complaints against Mr. Trump.

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July 5, 2018