New York state tax investigators were set to meet Tuesday with a lawyer for President Donald Trump‘s former personal attorney Michael Cohen despite objections from federal prosecutors, according to a new report.
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CNN reported that Cohen’s criminal defense lawyer Guy Petrillo is expected to meet with tax authorities as part of their ongoing probe into both Cohen, who pleaded guilty last month to federal crimes, and the Trump Organization.
A law enforcement source cited by CNN complained, “This is clear interference with an ongoing criminal investigation.”
A source in law enforcement who spoke with CNBC said of the meeting with Petrillo, “There are major concerns about interference with the ongoing federal investigation.”
The CNN story published Tuesday said executives in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York had asked state and local authorities to avoid making moves regarding Cohen or the Trump Organization that might interfere with an ongoing federal probe.
Alphonso David, counsel to the governor, told CNBC, “No one has told us that the southern district of New York advised the tax department not to proceed with their investigation.”
CNN also reported that tax investigators have sought to have prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office attend the meeting, but it is not clear if they will.
Petrillo did not immediately return a request for comment from CNBC.
James Gazzale, a spokesman for the New York State Tax and Finance Department, called CNN’s story “misinformation.”
“Neither the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York or any other law enforcement agency expressed that the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not want us to continue with our investigation of state tax matters,” Gazzale said.
Cohen pleaded guilty last month to federal tax crimes and to violating campaign finance law in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. He has yet to be sentenced.
The Trump Organization reportedly is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in connection with its reimbursement to Cohen for $130,000 he paid porn star Stormy Daniels. The payment was made on the eve of the 2016 presidential election in exchange for her keeping quiet about an affair she claims to have had with Trump in 2008.
Cohen has said Trump directed him to pay Daniels for the purpose of influencing the outcome of the election that sent Trump to the White House.
Court filings cited by CNN indicate that the Trump Organization paid Cohen, ostensibly for legitimate business expenses, after he submitted false invoices for the money.
CNN said that hours after Cohen pleaded guilty, the state tax department subpoenaed him as part of an investigation into whether Trump’s eponymous charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, violated state tax laws.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment. A spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney did not immediately return a request for comment.
The New York Attorney General’s Office, the agency that would be responsible for prosecuting any violation of state tax law, did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.