The Manhattan district attorney’s criminal investigation into President Donald Trump’s business has slowed as investigators wait for a ruling by the US Supreme Court, according to people familiar with the investigation, making it likely that a decision on whether there is a case to bring will be weeks or months away.
A fight over a subpoena for the President’s tax returns has churned through the courts since September 2019, which has handicapped investigators’ efforts, people familiar with the investigation say. Prosecutors can’t confront key witnesses without the documents or determine whether there is evidence that any laws have been broken, the people say.
New York prosecutors also don’t have the type of leverage that federal investigators have when interviewing people, since New York state law does not have an equivalent of the federal false statements law, which makes it a crime to lie to federal officials.
Prosecutors, led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, are investigating whether the Trump Organization violated any state laws, including insurance fraud or tax fraud.
Investigators with the district attorney’s office have interviewed individuals, including Michael Cohen, and have subpoenaed the Trump Organization, lender Deutsche Bank and insurance broker Aon for records. Prosecutors subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, which has loaned Trump more than $300 million, for records in late 2019 and interviewed employees about general underwriting practices after the 2020 election but those employees were not involved in the Trump loans.
Prosecutors have not been in contact with Rosemary Vrablic, Trump’s private banker and advocate at Deutsche Bank, people familiar with the investigation said. Last month, when Vrablic announced her retirement, her lawyer said she is “committed to cooperating with authorities if asked.”
Investigators also have not sought interviews with any employees of the Trump Organization, the people say.
Lawyers have speculated that the Supreme Court may be waiting for Trump’s term to end next week before issuing its ruling. The wait means that investigators are still several weeks or months away from determining whether there is a criminal case to be made, the people say. The Trump Organization has maintained that it has paid all applicable taxes and is in compliance with the law.
In 2019, Trump sued to block a subpoena to his accounting firm Mazars USA for eight years of tax records. The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in July that the President is not immune to a state grand jury investigation. Trump’s attorneys amended the lawsuit challenging the subpoena on new grounds.
A federal appeals court ruled in October that the subpoena is not overly broad or issued in bad faith, which put the case before the Supreme Court — but there has been no ruling. The issue now before the court is whether it will grant the President’s request to stay the appeals court decision, which would pause the subpoena, or reject it, allowing the subpoena to be enforced. Vance’s office agreed to wait to enforce the subpoena to allow Trump’s lawyers time to appeal.
While areas of the investigation have slowed, prosecutors have broadened their inquiry as new details have come to light. This fall, prosecutors subpoenaed records from the Trump Organization concerning fees it has paid to consultants, including Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter, while she was an employee of the firm, people familiar with the matter said. The subpoenas were sent after The New York Times reported about the consulting fees.
In response, Ivanka Trump tweeted, “This is harassment pure and simple. … They know very well that there’s nothing here and that there was no tax benefit whatsoever.”
The district attorney’s office has previously cited the delays due to challenging the subpoena as a threat to the investigation.
Cary Dunne, general counsel for Vance’s office, told a judge in July that the subpoena delay has led to “continuing concerns about the potential loss of critical evidence and expiration of statutes of limitations.”