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Investigator accused of crime in bid to get Trump data

Jeff Martin
Associated Press

A private investigator in Louisiana unsuccessfully tried to obtain President Donald Trump’s federal tax returns through a government website, and “even sounded proud of what he had done,” authorities said.

Jordan Hamlett was charged with misrepresenting his Social Security number in the effort, prosecutors said. He is accused of using a computer application on a public government website in an attempt to get Trump’s records.

Hamlett did this in September, while Trump was still a candidate for president, by using the Federal Student Aid-Datashare application, prosecutors said.

Trump refused to release his tax returns during the presidential campaign, saying he was under audit, and still has not made the records public.

Hamlett, 31, owns a private investigations agency in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He pleaded not guilty. His lawyer didn’t immediately respond to phone and email messages Tuesday.

It’s not immediately clear what his maximum sentence could be if he is convicted.

In an interview with federal agents in a Baton Rouge hotel lobby, Hamlett expressed pride in the technique he used, prosecutors wrote in court filings.

Hamlett “immediately volunteered that he had committed the crime, and he even sounded proud of what he had done,” they wrote.

The application at the center of the case allowed users applying for financial aid to locate their tax records, and transfer the information to the education website.

In court records, defense lawyer Michael Fiser characterized the interview in the hotel as an “interrogation,” and said his client’s statements were not made voluntarily. Fiser is trying to keep the statements from being used as evidence.

Prosecutors dispute that account, saying the encounter with federal agents was friendly and that Hamlett had agreed to speak with them.