WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — New York prosecutors have convened a special grand jury to consider evidence in a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s business dealings, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The development signals that the Manhattan district attorney’s office was moving toward seeking charges as a result of its two-year investigation, which included a lengthy legal battle to obtain Trump’s tax records.
The person familiar with the matter was not authorized to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity. The news was first reported by The Washington Post.
Vance’s office has said in court filings it was investigating “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct” at the Trump Organization, including tax and insurance fraud and falsification of business records.
A spokesman for Vance, Danny Frost, declined to comment on the Post report.
Trump responded to reports in a statement Tuesday evening.
“No other President in history has had to put up with what I have had to, and on top of all that, I have done a great job for our Country, whether it’s taxes, regulations, our Military, Veterans, Space Force, our Borders, speedy creation of a great vaccine (said to be a miracle!), and protecting the Second Amendment,” he said. “This is purely political, and an affront to the almost 75 million voters who supported me in the Presidential Election, and it’s being driven by highly partisan Democrat prosecutors.”
Vance has been using an investigative grand jury through the course of his probe to issue subpoenas and obtain documents. That panel kept working while other grand juries and court activities were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The investigation includes scrutiny of Trump’s relationship with his lenders; a land donation he made to qualify for an income tax deduction; and tax write-offs his company claimed on millions of dollars in consulting fees it paid.
The new grand jury could eventually be asked to consider returning indictments. While working on that case, it also will be hearing other matters. The Post reported that the grand jury will meet three days a week for six months.
The New York attorney general’s office said a week ago that it had opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s company, increasing the legal risk for Trump and his family.
Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating whether the Trump Organization falsely reported property values to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits.
In recent months, Vance hired former mafia prosecutor Mark Pomerantz to help run the investigation and has been interviewing witnesses, including Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Vance declined to run for reelection and will leave office at the end of the year, meaning the Trump case is likely to pass to his successor in some form. An election next month is all but certain to determine who that will be.
In February, the U.S. Supreme Court buoyed Vance’s investigation by clearing the way for the prosecutor to enforce a subpoena on Trump’s accounting firm and obtain eight years of tax returns and related documents for the former president, the Trump Organization and other Trump entities.
The documents are protected by grand jury secrecy rules and are not expected to be made public.
Vance’s investigation has appeared to focus in recent weeks on Trump’s longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg. His former daughter-in-law, Jen Weisselberg, is cooperating with both inquiries.
She’s given investigators reams of tax records and other documents as they look into whether some Trump employees were given off-the-books compensation, such as apartments or school tuition.
Allen Weisselberg was subpoenaed in James’ civil investigation and testified twice last year. His lawyer declined to comment when asked Tuesday if he had been subpoenaed to testify before the new grand jury.
Trump, who left office in January, has denied any wrongdoing.
Last week he attacked James, saying “we will overcome” any attempt at prosecution.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.