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From Trump’s tax returns, what NY investigators might learn

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From Trump's tax returns, what NY investigators might learn

 

For a year and a half, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. struggled to get access to the tax records of former President Donald Trump.

Ok, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court decision, he’s going to get them soon. But what does that mean for the Democrat’s investigation into the corporate affairs of Trump?

Former prosecutors claim the cache of documents could give investigators new resources before or after he took office to decide if Trump lied to lenders or tax officials.

“Prosecutors are searching for paperwork anomalies. For instance, if Trump told the IRS that he’s broke and lenders that he’s wealthy, that’s just the kind of difference they might build a case around,’ said Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor who served as Vance’s asset forfeiture chief on a wide range of white collar cases.

“These documents, Levin said, are a very important piece of the jigsaw puzzle.”

It is unclear if Trump’s documents would contain evidence of a crime. For years, the former president has maintained that he violated no laws and was wrongly persecuted for political purposes by Democrats.

Here’s a look at where the tax documents in the district attorney’s investigation might be useful, and where they might not help much:

Further back than just returns

To prevent his federal income tax returns from becoming public, Trump went to extraordinary lengths, but those aren’t the only important records contained in this shipment.

Not only should Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, turn over the final versions of Trump’s tax returns, but also draught versions of those returns and “any and all financial condition statements, annual statements, periodic financial reports, and reports from independent auditors” retained by the organisation.

Adam D. Citron, a former state prosecutor and partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, said this might give state prosecutors a “open book” into Trump’s finances.

“It’s the kitchen sink, actually.” It may be important to review certain other records to decide if Trump or his firms gave tax authorities different details on his income than they gave to other officials, such as banks and business associates.

HUSH COIN

One of the original subpoenas sent to the Trump Organization called for details regarding payments Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged for women who had alleged to have had extramarital sexual affairs with Trump when the district attorney’s investigation first started.

Cohen said Trump’s company later reimbursed the adult film actress Stormy Daniels for one of those fees, disguising it in the form of a legal fee.

Whether Trump’s tax returns would add much to that portion of the investigation is not clear, though.

The New York Times, which received years of tax data from Trump, wrote that it included “no new disclosures” on Daniels’ payment and did not include any itemised payments to Cohen.

BREAKS DE TAX Any of the deals Trump made to minimise his tax bill have been investigated by the district attorney’s office.

In analysing if any of those manoeuvres crossed legal boundaries, data in the returns may be important.

One of the breaks under investigation is the one Trump received for donating to a conservation trust part of his Seven Springs land, north of New York City.

Whether Trump overvalued the land to get a bigger break than he deserved has been questioned by some experts. Investigators have already subpoenaed several records relevant to the land deal and obtained them.

In California, Trump benefited from a similar donation for conservation. TO LENDERS STATEMENTS

The full scope of its investigation has not been revealed by Vance’s office. But investigators also pointed to news stories in court filings that challenged whether the worth of his assets to banks and insurance firms has been chronically inflated by Trump.

Last month, the Associated Press announced that Vance’s office had recently interviewed Cohen for hours, questioning him about Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, his largest and longest-standing creditor, among other items.

One Washington Post article cited by prosecutors detailed how the number of home lots for sale at a California golf course, the acreage at one of his vineyards and the number of stories in Trump Tower were inflated by separate financial statements from the Trump Organization while missing debt details at his hotel projects in Chicago and Las Vegas.

Only one instrument that prosecutors will use to examine whether any of those statements amounted to fraud will be tax records. “Citron said of state prosecutors, “They’re going to look at valuations and property values. “They will look at the attorneys’ billings to see what their expenses were for.”

Monday’s ruling does not ensure that Trump’s financial records are seen by the public.

They are protected for now by the rules of grand jury secrecy.

Even if charges are brought in the case, if submitted to the record, those documents would likely be heavily redacted. I’m sure there’s going to be tonnes of litigation about that even then,” Citron said.”

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Consumer confidence takes a hit in November

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Consumer confidence takes a hit in November

WASHINGTON — U.S. consumer confidence fell to a nine-month low in November, clipped by rising prices and concern about the coronavirus.

The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its consumer confidence index dropped to a reading of 109.5, down from 111.6 in October. It was the lowest reading since the index stood at 95.2 in February.

The survey was completed on Nov. 19 and does not include omicron, a new variant of the coronavirus that has begun to spread with few answers about the damage it might do to the U.S. and global economies.

Even before the omicron variant appeared, consumer optimism was being tested by price spikes across the board, particularly for gasoline and food.

The Conference Board’s present situation index, which measures consumers’ assessment of current business and labor conditions, fell to 142.5, down from 145.5 in October. The expectations index, based the outlook for income, business and labor market conditions, fell to 87.6 in November from 89.0 in October.

The board said concerns about rising prices and to a lesser degree, lingering worries about the delta variant, were the primary drivers of the November decline.

But economists believe rising prices and any jolt from the omicron variant will not have a major impact on holiday spending this year, something that can have a sizable impact on the U.S. economy.

Nancy Vanden Houten, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, said she expected the omicron variant would have only a “moderate negative impact on growth.” She is looking for the overall economy to expand at an annual rate of 7.9% in the current quarter ending in December, a big improvement from the lackluster 2.1% GDP gain in the July-September quarter.

The decline in the Conference Board confidence index followed an even bigger drop reported last week in the University of Michigan’s gauge of consumer sentiment, which fell in November to a decade-low of 7.4, compared to a final October reading of 71.7.

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Ticker: Woburn firm in battery deal with Mercedes, Stellantis; Maine groups take aim at fed permits for hydro lines

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Ticker: Woburn firm in battery deal with Mercedes, Stellantis; Maine groups take aim at fed permits for hydro lines

Automakers Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis announced agreements with Woburn-based Factorial Energy on Tuesday to help develop solid-state battery technology that they hope could make electric cars more attractive to a mass market.

Mercedes-Benz, part of Daimler AG, said it is joining forces with Factorial to jointly develop batteries with the aim of testing prototype cells as early as next year. It said it is “investing a high double-digit million dollar amount in Factorial” that will give it the right to a representative on the battery company’s board of directors.

Stellantis, which combined PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler, said it signed a joint development agreement with Factorial and is making a “strategic investment” in the company. It didn’t detail the size of the investment.

Maine groups take aim at hydro lines

Maine environmental groups have requested that the federal government suspend the permits it issued to a billion-dollar electricity project for Massachusetts residents, which Maine voters rejected in a referendum last month.

Three groups, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine, wrote a joint letter on Monday to the federal Department of Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, seeking to halt the New England Clean Energy Connect project.

The 145-mile electric transmission corridor would run through western Maine, and is backed by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

The letter emphasized that the project could not continue because of the Nov. 2 referendum blocked the project that would be used to transmit power from hydroelectric dams in Canada to the New England grid through Lewiston.

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John Shipley: Change looks good on the Wild

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John Shipley: Change looks good on the Wild

The Minnesota Wild are an almost entirely different team than the one that has been disappointing its fans for the better part of 20 years. For Wild fans, it must feel good.

Forget for a minute how good the Wild have been this season and simply enjoy not hearing about “the young core” or Ryan Suter’s steady veteran leadership.

Chuck Fletcher’s core? Hardly anyone left. Suter and Zach Parise? Gone for fewer than 25 games and already forgotten. The Wild entered Tuesday night’s game as one of the best teams in the NHL and looked every bit the part in a wide-open, 5-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes at Xcel Energy Center.

The Coyotes, to be polite, are not very good. But the Wild handled them the way a good team handles a not very good one. It wasn’t always perfect, but it was fun to watch.

Sometimes making a change, any change, is the answer.

Paul Fenton didn’t last a full year as the Wild’s general manager, but he was here long enough to ask a question that absolutely had to be answered: Why are we still married to Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter?

There was no good answer, so he got rid of them, sometimes for, well, not much. But it was a start and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Current GM Bill Guerin was just finishing his second season as Fenton’s replacement when he tackled the other major piece of old business: Are Parise and Suter still helping us?

Guerin determined the answer was no, bought out the rest of their $98 million contracts at a financial penalty, and it’s hard to argue with the decision. After Tuesday’s win, the Wild are 15-6-1 and tied with Calgary atop the Western Conference standings with 31 points.

“I think that fits right where we should be, where we expect to be,” said winger Jordan Greenway, who scored his first goal of the season on Tuesday and added assists on goals by Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno.

“We’ve been playing well enough to be at the top of leaderboard. So, yeah, I think that’s where we should be, and that’s where we should stay for a while.”

A second-round draft pick out of Boston University, Greenway played his first full season in 2018-19, the tail end of Fletcher’s 10-year reign in Minnesota. Fletcher drafted a lot of players still helping the Wild, most notably blue liners Matt Dumba, Jared Spurgoen and Jonas Brodin and forward Kirill Kaprizov, a fifth-round (!) pick in 2015. The guy knew what he was doing.

But Fletcher had grown so close to his plan that he failed to alter course after it became clear it wasn’t going to work. The forwards he had drafted for his “young core” — Coyle, Niederreiter, Granlund and Jason Zucker — all had an upside but didn’t work as a unit. Parise and Suter had missed their window and became more trouble than they were worth. Still, Fletcher was loath to change it.

Enter Fenton, who was something of a bull in a china shop but did the team a service by taking the important first steps of the dirty work. Guerin has shown a knack for adding congruent parts — Cam Talbot, Ryan Hartman — and made the difficult decision to jettison Parise and Suter, shocking at the time but only because of the money the team is still paying them.

Whatever those two brought, on the ice or in the dressing room, it hasn’t been missed. This is a confident, dialed-in team that is fun to watch. They lead the NHL in scoring with 83 goals, one better than the Washington Capitals and 19 more than they have allowed.

“We’re not teaching, we’re not coaching any differently,” coach Dean Evason said. “I just think that we’ve got some depth scoring that everybody’s producing. They’re all for the most part playing the right way and the same way, and if we do that we feel that we’ll be able to score goals.”

Sports are a fickle business, and hockey more fickle than most. Maybe this won’t last. Maybe the Wild get bounced in the first round of the playoffs again. Who knows? But one thing is certain: If it goes belly up, or is just plain disappointing in the end, it won’t be for the same reasons as the past 10 years. It won’t be because the team was afraid to do something different.

Doesn’t that feel good?

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