Nick Akerman, who investigated former President Richard Nixon’s tax activities as part of the Watergate investigation, appeared on CNN on Tuesday to speak about two recent reports by The New York Times about Donald Trump’s tax returns.
According to Akerman, there is “no question” that both Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump could face years in prison for tax evasion.
Akerman told anchor Erin Burnett that Nixon was a “rookie amateur” compared to Trump’s maneuvers which allowed him to pay no federal income taxes for at least 11 years and just $750 in 2016 and 2017.
“Tax avoidance is simply taking the tax code and getting the most deductions you can get under the code that is perfectly legal,” Akerman told Burnett. “Tax fraud, however, is lying about what your income was, lying about what your deductions are, and there’s a couple of items that just stand out in that report from the New York Times that really appear to go beyond tax avoidance.”
Akerman then noted a particular revelation about consulting fees that the Trump Organization paid to an outside consultant for hotel projects in Hawaii and Vancouver, British Columbia, totaling $747,622. Coincidentally, Ivanka Trump, who at the time was an executive at the Trump Organization, reported that she received that exact amount in 2017 through a consulting firm she co-owned.
“There is no legitimate reason for her to get those consulting fees since she was being paid already as a Trump employee,” Akerman said. “The only possible reason for doing this was to somehow move money around so that it wouldn’t be taxed to Donald Trump but would in effect go on Ivanka Trump’s tax return, who probably had certain losses that she could take against it. So in the end, the government gets zero dollars.”
According to the law, there is “no question” the president and Ivanka Trump could face at least five years in prison for tax evasion, Akerman said.
“It is a pretty serious crime and the more money that is stolen the longer you go to jail for,” he said, adding, “The only thing saving him at this point is the Department of Justice’s guideline that says you can’t indict a sitting president.”
Take a look at Akerman’s remarks below:
Ex-Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman says the NYT’s report on Trump’s taxes shows that both he and his daughter, Ivanka could face legal liabilities. “The only thing saving him at this point is the Department of Justice’s guideline that says you can’t indict a sitting president.” pic.twitter.com/kOytMsQTgQ
— CNN (@CNN) September 29, 2020