New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a motion last night notifying the court it has found substantial evidence that the Trump Organization, helped along by the Trump children, used “fraudulent or misleading” information to secure financial loans and tax breaks for the company.
You’ve likely caught up on the basics of the news since it broke last night. Essentially James’ court filing details allegations about the ways in which her office believes members of the organization and the Trump family lied to tax officials and banks about the values of certain property assets for financial gain and tax benefits. The New York AG’s filing revealed the office is seeking subpoenas for testimony from the Donald himself, as well as his two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. She alleges that the two elder children had a hand in the valuation fudging.
James’ office said it had not yet decided if it would bring a civil suit for the new allegations but said that state authorities want to question the trio as part of their ongoing probe into the organization. Those are the toplines. The news came the same night as CNN reported another member of the Trump family, Eric Trump, as well as Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancee Kimberly Guilfoyle, have found themselves under scrutiny in an entirely different investigation — the Jan. 6 Committee had reportedly subpoenaed and obtained phone records from the two as part of its probe into the insurrection and President Trump’s incitement of the violent attack.
But the James filing is fascinating and worth a read. It’s filled with the kind of tacky Trumpian gems we’ve learned to expect from the family over the course of the last six years. Of the “misleading” asset valuations that prosecutors are alleging, some highlights:
- More generous than they are: James’ office alleges the Trump Org embellished the value of land donations the company made in California and New York in IRS filings requesting tax deductions.
- Yuge: The organization allegedly lied about the size of Trump’s Trump Tower penthouse apartment, claiming it was three times bigger than it actually is, a difference of $200 million in value (and this information all allegedly came from testimony from longtime Trump finance chief Allen Weisselberg, who was charged with tax fraud last year).
- A rose by any other name: Branding also played a role in value inflation. The court filing alleges the Trump Organization often exaggerated the value of properties that had the Trump name on them.
- Ivanka’s role: An apartment that Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka Trump was renting on Trump Park Avenue was reported at an $8.5 million value in Trump financial statements, when it was actually worth $25 million, James’ office alleges.
- Don Jr. had a hand in it too: “Moreover, evidence obtained by OAG confirms that Donald Trump, Jr. was involved with certain Trump Organization properties that are valued on Mr. Trump’s Statement of Financial Condition, including 40 Wall Street, and was consulted in connection with the matters on the Statements of Financial Condition,” the filing states.
- The paper president: The AG’s office attempted to obtain documents that might show the former president was involved and aware of the alleged financial smudging, documents like Post-It Notes. The company refused to hand those things over. Trump was notorious throughout his presidency for refusing to correspond via proper electronic or official channels, often resorting to handwritten notes or print-outs of newspaper articles (that he would rip into tiny shreds to dispose of) instead.
While, as far as we know, it’s still speculation, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman suggested on Twitter today that the evidence of this ongoing investigation into his family will do little more than fuel Trump’s drive to run again in 2024.
Is accountability coming for the former president? After years and years of covering this family, we know to take such predictions with a grain of salt. The Trumps have a special method for dealing with these things: using all the legal tactics at their disposal to delay proceedings, whining about political motivations and, in the end, getting others sacked for their (alleged) wrongdoings.
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