A former federal prosecutor who worked on the Watergate scandal has said Donald and Ivanka Trump could be imprisoned for “tax fraud” after leaving the White House.
Asked during an appearance on CNN whether the US president could face charges for years of alleged tax evasion following the publication of his tax records this week, Nick Akerman said there was “no question about it”.
“And his daughter could go to jail, too,” said he added of Ivanka, a White House adviser who was also named in a bombshell New York Times report on Mr Trump’s financial filings.
The report revealed Mr Trump had paid no federal income tax in 10 of the past 15 years having made - and lost - millions across his businesses.
Watch; 'Fake news' - Trump rejects NY Times claims about his tax returns
The president paid only $750 (£583) in income taxes in 2016, the year he was elected, and the same sum again in 2017, despite boasting of being a billionaire.
“Tax evasion is a five-year felony,” Mr Akerman told CNN. “It’s a pretty serious crime, and the more money that’s stolen, the longer you go to jail for.
“It looks like Trump has done a whole series of activities that could qualify as tax fraud, not tax avoidance,” the prosecutor added.
“Tax avoidance is simply getting-taking the tax code and getting the most deductions you can get under the code that’s perfectly legal. Tax fraud however is lying about what your income was, what your deductions are, and there are just a couple of items that stand out in that report that appear to go beyond tax avoidance.”
Mr Trump, who has dismissed the Times report as “totally fake” but refused to discuss details or to publicly disclose his tax records, is also said to have paid his daughter for consultancy fees for “no legitimate reason”, as she was already employed by the Trump Organization.
Mr Ackerman speculated that the payment to Ms Trump was made in order for the president to avoid paying taxes.
Mr Trump could face investigations into his tax affairs if he loses to the Democrat Joe Biden in November’s presidential election, the prosecutor predicted.
“The only thing that’s saving him at this point is the Department of Justice’s guideline that says you can’t indict a sitting president,” Mr Akerman said. “Once he’s no longer a sitting president, he is subject to being indicted.”