New York tax investigators subpoena Michael Cohen in Trump Foundation probe

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has issued a subpoena to Michael Cohen as part of its ...

Posted: Aug 23, 2018 10:49 AM
Updated: Aug 23, 2018 10:49 AM

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has issued a subpoena to Michael Cohen as part of its ongoing probe into whether the Trump Foundation violated New York tax laws, a department spokesman confirmed to CNN.

This probe is separate from the New York attorney general's lawsuit against the Trump Foundation. The Tax Department is not able to bring any criminal charges, and if it finds any wrongdoing, the department would have to refer it to the New York attorney general's office or another prosecutor's office.

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"A subpoena has been issued to Michael Cohen for relevant information in light of the public disclosures made yesterday," said Tax Department spokesperson John Gazzale in a statement. "We will be working with the New York Attorney General and the Manhattan district attorney as appropriate. We can't comment further on this investigation."

"As our lawsuit against the Trump Foundation illustrates, we will hold Donald Trump and his associates accountable for violations of state law, and will seek a criminal referral from the appropriate state agency as necessary," said Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office. She added that the office "cannot comment on potential or ongoing investigations."

The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

The Associated Press first reported the news of the subpoena.

The tax department subpoena comes a day after Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts in Manhattan federal court, charges that included tax fraud, false statements to a bank and campaign finance violations tied to his work for President Donald Trump. Those charges were brought by the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

Cohen admitted on Tuesday that he had kept information that would have harmed Trump from becoming public during the 2016 election cycle, "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office." Those efforts included hush payments for two women who alleged affairs with Trump: Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, and a porn star named Stephanie Clifford, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels. Trump has denied the affair allegations.

In court on Tuesday, Cohen said his conduct was specifically for the "purpose of influencing the election," when discussing the charge related to McDougal.

He also said the money he used to pay Clifford, better known as former adult film star Stormy Daniels, was "later repaid to me by the candidate."

Cohen, Trump's longtime personal lawyer, was under investigation for months by federal prosecutors in New York, after the case involving him was referred to the US attorney's office by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Despite Cohen's statements in court under oath and the court filings made by federal prosecutors that reference Trump's involvement in Cohen's conduct, the White House on Wednesday maintained that Trump "did nothing wrong."

"As the President has said and we've stated many times, he did nothing wrong. There are no charges against him and we've commented on it extensively," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. "Just because Michael Cohen made a plea deal, doesn't implicate the President on anything."

Cohen faces up to 65 years in prison.

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