The Louisiana private investigator accused of trying to illegally obtain Donald Trump’s tax returns before last year’s U.S. presidential election has been arrested again.
A judge found that Jordan Hamlett violated conditions of his pretrial release that involved computer monitoring and tracking of his location at a hearing this week.
Hamlett was arrested by federal agents last year after he misused a Social Security number while attempting to obtain the then-presidential candidate’s tax returns using a U.S. Department of Education financial aid website. That effort was unsuccessful, but, at the time, agents didn’t know that, according to court documents.
Hamlett’s attorney has since accused agents of tricking his client by luring him to a Baton Rouge hotel where they questioned him on Oct. 27, less than two weeks before the election.
The agents were worried that a public release of Trump’s tax returns could influence the election, according to a transcript of testimony obtained by The Associated Press.
On Wednesday, a judge ordered Hamlett be held in detention by the U.S. Marshals Service, but there’s still a possibility that he could return to home detention at some point while awaiting his December trial.
Court records describe how federal agents in October were concerned that Hamlett could be armed as they orchestrated an elaborate operation to lure him to the Embassy Suites in Baton Rouge for questioning. Plainclothes officers blended in with guests inside the hotel, while other officers took up positions outside.
Hamlett agreed to an interview in the hotel’s atrium, and the agents questioned him for hours in hushed tones inside the crowded lobby, authorities said.
Hamlett immediately took credit for his “genius idea” to seek Trump’s tax returns from a U.S. Education Department financial aid website — even before he was accused of anything, Treasury Department Special Agent Samuel Johnson testified.
“He sounded somewhat … I would describe it as proud,” Johnson said. “We spoke in lower voices because there was a number of people passing by and the information that we’re discussing at this time relates directly to … presidential candidate Trump and his tax returns.”
Prosecutors haven’t given any possible motives for Hamlett’s alleged attempt to get Trump’s tax records. Court documents revealed that agents wondered whether he was working with anyone or planned to sell them or release them.
Earlier in March, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced in a press briefing Monday that the president will not be releasing his 2016 returns, citing his 2016 returns are “under the same audit that existed.”
“They are [under audit]. I think it’s been covered before. It was the same thing that was discussed during the campaign trail,” Spicer said.
As a presidential candidate, Trump was not legally required to release his tax returns, and experts maintain the same holds true now that he is serving in the White House.
“I know of no law that requires President Trump to disclose his tax returns and I have seen no action that indicates he will do so,” Kenneth Gross, an expert on laws on political activity, told ABC News.
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