It won’t take New York prosecutors as long to sort through Donald Trump’s taxes as you might think

Donald Trump’s tax returns are now officially in the hands of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. By all accounts this includes millions of pages of documents, consisting of not just tax returns but also supporting financial records. So how long is this going to take to sort through, before Trump can be indicted?

The answer is longer than you’d like, but not as long as you might think. Keep in mind that the DA’s office is not starting from scratch. It’s spent more than a year steadily building a criminal case against Trump by zeroing in on specific instances of fraud, such as overvaluing certain properties to use as mortgage collateral and so on.

In order to prove these already-earmarked instances of fraud, prosecutors simply need to look up the specific pages of Trump’s taxes that deal with that particular incident. Assuming the tax records are computerized and not printed pieces of paper, this will be as easy as using the search function.

There will still be work to be done. Prosecutors will still have to take these findings back to the grand jury for indictment. And of course prosecutors may opt to also go through Trump’s taxes line by line, to try to uncover any additional crimes that they don’t already know about.

It would be foolish to try to estimate precisely how many days or weeks it might take for prosecutors to indict Donald Trump. But if you’re envisioning prosecutors haplessly shuffling through millions of pages to try to find some random needle in a haystack, and the process taking forever as a result, that’s not really what we’re looking at.

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