The New York Attorney General’s Office has been investigating possible civil violations by the Trump Organization, but it announced the investigation has expanded to include potential crimes.
Six legal battles looming for Trump Ms James launched a civil inquiry in March 2019 into claims that Mr Trump had inflated the value of his assets to banks when seeking loans, and understated them to lower his taxes.
Her office has also seeking documents on four Trump Organization properties in Manhattan, upstate New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr said in court documents last August that his office was investigating alleged "protracted criminal conduct" at the Trump Organization.
Mr Vance's legal filing cited newspaper articles about purported bank and insurance fraud at the company.
The Manhattan district attorney has also been investigating whether any of Mr Trump's financial records were doctored to cover up hush-money payments to two women in 2016 who say they had affairs with him.
Mr Vance's office said in February it had obtained Mr Trump's tax returns as part of the investigation, after a long legal battle.
Throughout his presidency, Mr Trump resolutely refused to reveal his tax returns, despite coming under great pressure to do so.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating former President Donald Trump's business, the Trump Organization, "in a criminal capacity," her office says, ratcheting up scrutiny of Trump's real estate transactions and other dealings.
The state attorney general is joining forces with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who has been conducting a separate criminal inquiry into Trump's business practices and possible insurance or financial fraud as well as alleged hush money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Trump before he became president.
Trump has in the past refused to cooperate with the investigations, calling them instances of "political persecution." Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for Vance to subpoena Trump's tax returns and other financial documents.
Here's a brief recap of where things currently stand:
Prosecutors team up
The new collaboration between the state and local offices is an unusual event in itself: In New York, the attorney general and the district attorney have historically been rivals. But in this case, they're working together.
Two assistant attorneys general have now joined the district attorney's team of prosecutors. They're all trying to unravel troves of complicated information, including millions of pages of tax returns and other documents related to how the Trump Organization operates in the U.S. as well as its sprawling international enterprises.
With the shift in focus from James' office, we now know that both of these prosecution teams are making a determined and coordinated effort to sift through evidence of possible crimes.
As of now, it's not clear whether Trump, or members of his family, are potential subjects of the state's criminal investigation.
As for what the investigators might unearth, Tristan Snell, a former assistant attorney general in New York's Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection, cited his earlier work helping New York investigate and prosecute Trump's business over fraud allegations at Trump University.
The former prosecutor says the current inquiries could benefit from the way Trump's businesses are set up.
"One of the things that people need to remember about the Trump Organization is that they are a very small operation ultimately, basically run by a tiny handful of people," Snell says.
"They outsourced everything," Snell says, later adding, "That was a boon to us with the Trump University case, because it meant that we were able to go get the documents we needed from third parties, even after the Trump team stonewalled us."
Prosecutors are not providing many details beyond describing the general scope of their inquiries. And while news of the criminal aspect of the state's inquiry emerged late Tuesday, the Trump Organization was notified in April, according to The Washington Post.
The Trump Organization has not responded to requests for comments on this latest development, although Trump has issued a statement calling the criminal inquiry another example of a political witch hunt.
Former President Trump lashed out Tuesday after it was reported that a grand jury was seated to weigh any criminal evidence against him and his company and decide if indictments should be issued.
“This is a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history,” Trump lamented, referencing other investigations into Russian election meddling.
“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 added. “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.”
The broadside comes as Trump, the Trump Organization and its executives are under investigation for an array of potential financial misconduct.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. is coordinating his probe with New York Attorney General Letitia James in their overlapping inquiries. James’s office said last week that it is now investigating the Trump Organization in a "criminal capacity” as well as a "civil capacity."
Among the accusations prosecutors are probing are if the Trump Organization inflated the value of its properties to lenders and insurers and if it paid the appropriate amount of taxes. Prosecutors are also reportedly investigating if Trump’s business gave employees benefits instead of higher salaries in an attempt to lower the company’s payroll tax burden.
Several Trump Organization officials — including Eric Trump, the former president's son, and Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg — have already been deposed.
The new grand jury will likely review information when it gathers for three days a week for six months. Among the evidence it will review is eight years’ worth of Trump’s tax returns.
Roger Stone predicted Friday that a criminal indictment of Donald Trump is inevitable — though he maintains that the myriad investigations into Trump's alleged criminal activity are a "witch hunt."
Stone made the claims in an appearance on the far-right, conspiracy-driven outlet "InfoWars," during a wide-ranging conversation with host Alex Jones.
"I would be shocked if they did not come forward with a fabricated indictment for bank fraud or tax fraud against the former president [Donald Trump] by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.," Stone began, before claiming he will take the mantle of "establish[ing] this is a partisan witch hunt" on his new podcast.
Stone continued by arguing the "fabricated" Trump indictment would most likely be filled around the same time the baseless Arizona 2020 election audit concludes.
"Let's be very clear. In other words, as you said it earlier, you show the man, and I'll show you the crime. They're allowed to root through this man's business record of forty years, in which he built a real estate empire second to none, combing for a crime, they have no evidence of a crime, they no probable cause," Stone declared. "It is disgraceful, but I do think it is going to happen."
"And don't be surprised if the announcement comes at the exact time that we learn the truth about Maricopa County, Arizona. Don't be surprised because I see that coming," the self-proclaimed "dirty-trickster" added.