According to two state officials who were not identified by the Times, the investigation is focused on determining whether the foundation violated state tax laws, which could lead to a criminal referral and possible prosecution. The foundation has already been sued by New York State attorney general Barbara Underwood, who has accused it of violating campaign finance laws, self-dealing, and illegally coordinating with the Trump presidential campaign.
According to the Times, a criminal inquiry could lead to the release of additional information beyond the scope of the lawsuit, including the president's tax returns. If the investigation found evidence of criminal activity, it could then refer its findings to a law enforcement agency such as the state attorney general's office or a district attorney.
While many have called for New York State governor Andrew Cuomo to issue a criminal referral to Underwood, such a referral could give President Trump's lawyers reason to seek a stay in the civil case against the foundation and delay those proceedings. "We continue to evaluate the evidence to determine what additional actions may be warranted, and will seek a criminal referral from the appropriate state agency as necessary," " Amy Spitalnick, a spokesperson for the state AG's office told the Times.