Cynics said it would never happen “no matter what.” Even after the Supreme Court ruled that it must happen, the deepest of cynics were still sure it somehow wouldn’t. But after the Supreme Court shot Donald Trump down a second time over his tax returns, there was no longer any doubt that they would end up in the hands of prosecutors. According to multiple major news outlets, the handover happened today.
To be clear, it was accounting firm Mazars that handed over Trump’s tax returns, not Trump himself. So no, what was turned over today wasn’t some fake version whipped up on the spot to try to fool prosecutors. Whatever was turned over to the Manhattan District Attorney today is in fact what Trump filed to begin with. Whether Trump falsified his tax returns when he filed them is another story. So what happens now?
We will certainly not see Trump arrested today or tomorrow. Prosecutors now have to go through Trump’s tax returns, which are lengthy and complex, line by line. The good news is that because they’ve already reportedly identified a number of criminal acts on Trump’s part, such as overvaluing certain properties while applying for new loans, they simply have to match up those numbers with the corresponding lines in Trump’s tax returns. So that part will go comparatively quickly.
What will take longer is going line by line through Trump’s tax returns, looking for suspicious numbers that jump out and point to additional potential crimes that prosecutors don’t already know about. Investigating those new crimes could take some time.
It’s not clear if prosecutors will ultimately have the grand jury indict Donald Trump on the known crimes now, and then bring superseding incitements later for any additional crimes they track down, or if prosecutors will wait and bring all of the indictments at once. That decision will likely determine whether Trump’s arrest comes a few weeks from now or a few months from now.
But what’s important is that it’s going to happen. Based on the serious financial crimes that were unearthed as a result of him becoming President, and the fact that New York prosecutors have had a grand jury poking into his finances for more than a year, it was clear all along that if he lost the election he’d end up getting arrested. Now that process is playing out as expected.
Keep in mind that with Donald Trump now out of power, haste isn’t what’s important; thoroughness is. It’s all about making the case so overwhelming that a conviction ends up being a formality. Keep in mind that even once Trump is arrested, his trial might not take place for perhaps six months; the legal system has its own timeline. But Trump is going to prison.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report