Posts tagged with "Donald Trump Jr."

New York AG Letitia James: We found ‘significant evidence’ of Trump Organization fraud

January 20, 2022

New York Attorney General Letitia James asked a court late Tuesday night, January 18, to compel Donald TrumpDonald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump to testify under oath—saying that her office’s investigation into the Trump Organization had uncovered “significant evidence” of fraud, reports The Daily Beast.

James said in a tweet, “We have uncovered significant evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent and misleading asset valuations on multiple properties to obtain economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions for years.”

“Donald J. Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump Jr… assert that they may have ignored lawfully issued subpoenas for sworn testimony because of what they contend is ‘an unprecedented and unconstitutional maneuver’ by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG)” the motion states. “But subpoenas to current and former top company officials—such as those at issue here—are routine in complex financial investigations and are amply warranted here.”

The court document notes that for over a year—and since Eric Trump testified in August 2020—the AG’s office has found significant evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used intentionally wrong property valuations “to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.”

Eric Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment “repeatedly” to avoid testifying as to the valuations of multiple Trump Organization properties, according to the memo.

Prosecutors note that, while their office has not reached a final decision as to whether this evidence warrants any legal action, their grounds “for conducting the investigation are beyond reproach.”

“This game must end,” the AG’s office says in its court filing, which asks that a judge force Trump and his two adult children to testify, as well as compel the company to turn over key missing documents.

In a Wednesday statement, the Trump Organization denied the allegations, accusing James of “misleading the public” with her probe into the former president’s businesses.

“She defrauded New Yorkers by basing her entire candidacy on a promise to get Trump at all costs without having seen a shred of evidence and in violation of every conceivable ethical rule. Three years later she is now faced with the stark reality that she has no case,” the statement said.

“So, in response to Trump suing her and filing multiple ethical complaints, and on the heels of her failed governor’s race, she has no choice but to mislead the public yet again by misrepresenting the facts and ignoring her own inflammatory comments. Her allegations are baseless and will be vigorously defended.”

The filing states that the investigation into the Trump Organization began in March 2019, when Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen testified before Congress. During his testimony, Cohen said Trump’s annual financial states inflated the values of the former president’s assets in order to obtain favorable loans and insurance coverage—while also deflating the value of some of his other assets to lower real estate taxes owed.

“OAG has methodically investigated those allegations; indeed, the Trump Organization has already provided substantial documentary and testimonial discovery in response to subpoenas issued by OAG in connection with its civil investigation, without ever challenging OAG’s good faith,” the motion states.

For more than two years, the Trump Organization was aware of the attorney general’s investigation into the alleged misconduct and insisted its executives were cooperating, according to the filing. In reality, the motion states, the organization dragged its heels and only recently began to hand over many of the documents that were ordered via subpoena in December 2019.

The memo details numerous schemes to allegedly inflate the value of Trump’s assets, including one in which the former president valued his own apartment in Trump Tower at $327 million, “based on the apartment having 30,000 square feet of space multiplied by a certain price per square foot.” But in 2017, the apartment shrank for the first time to its actual size of just over 10,000 square feet and its valuation shrank commensurately to $116.8 million.

Asked about this, Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg conceded that this amounted to a $200 million overstatement, “give or take.”

The court filing offers details on the Trump Organization’s allegedly misleading and false statements about the value of at least six properties—including the Trump golf clubs in Scotland and Westchester; and several of the company’s iconic buildings, including Trump Park Avenue and 40 Wall Street.

The AG’s office argues that the Trump Organization misrepresented the value of all these properties to the IRS, lenders, and other insurers with financial statements that were “inflated as part of a pattern to suggest that Mr. Trump’s net worth was higher than it otherwise would have appeared.”

In addition to the former president’s alleged misdeeds, the filing also paints a better picture into the previously opaque roles his two adult children play in the company. For example, Ivanka Trump was renting an apartment at Trump Park Avenue as if it were valued at $8.5 million, the memo notes. In Trump’s financial statements, however, the apartment was worth $25 million.

Ivanka “was a key player” in many of the company’s transactions and “was able to ask for an access to financial summaries and projections covering properties or businesses in the Trump Organization portfolio,” according to the memo, and also was a point person in its relationship with Deutsche Bank.

Donald Trump Jr., who joined the family firm in 2001, was likewise crucial to the organization’s financial makeup.

“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 memo states.

The attorney general’s office claims it has received more than 5 million pages of evidence from the company that show Trump lied about the most banal things: the amount of cash available for a deal, the use of so-called “outside professionals” to evaluate the value of assets, and even the actual size of the Trump Tower penthouse. In some instances, investigators say, they found that the Trump Organization inflated the value of a property simply because it had his name on it—even though the financial documents explicitly indicated that wasn’t allowed.

But when investigators tried to get a hold of Trump’s handwritten documents—like Post-it Notes—that would show his involvement in the allegedly shady valuations, the AG’s office alleges that the company simply wouldn’t turn them over.

In the past, a source with direct knowledge of the company’s inner workings has told The Daily Beast that the Trump Organization had an annual ritual in which Trump and Weisselberg would review company finances in private and fill in the blanks as they saw fit. (Weisselberg and the company were indicted last summer on tax fraud charges in the parallel criminal investigation that’s being run by the Manhattan district attorney with the AG’s help.)

The filing asks a judge to compel Donald Trump and the Trump Organization to turn over all documents within 14 days, and to have Donald, Donald Jr., and Ivanka summoned to testify within 21 days.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Ominous video at #AMPFest19 shows Trump ‘offing’ reporters in ‘Church of Fake News’

October 15, 2019

A video depicting a macabre scene of a fake President Donald Trump shooting, stabbing, and brutally assaulting members of the news media and his political opponents inside a Church of Fake News was shown at a conference for his supporters at his Miami resort, the Trump National Doral, last week, according to footage obtained by The New York Times.

According to the Times’ report on October 13, the video combines a series of memes and shows the president’s head superimposed on a mass shooter’s body. The president in the video then goes on to slaughter his political and media critics.

The conference was organized by American Priority, a pro-Trump group, and it was attended by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was speaking at the event, and the President’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.—neither of whom would admit to seeing the video, which supposed “was shown in a side room at #AMPFest 19,” the organization said.

In its official statement, AMP describes the video as “unauthorized” and says that it was never “approved, seen, or sanction by the #AMPFest 19 organizers,” who were “not even aware of the video until they were contacted by the NYT.”

The extremely violent video can be seen in this embedded tweet.

After news of the video broke, many politicians took to Twitter to condemn the video, including Democratic presidential candidate @Beto O’Rourke, who said: “ At a conference of Trump supporters, they played a video of our president murdering journalists in a church. Last year, a Trump supporter sent bombs to CNN—and a shooter entered a church yesterday. This video isn’t funny. It will get people killed.”

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) added his own outrage, tweeting: “Every mother and father in America should watch video. Play it all the way to end. Know that this is the re-election message of your President. And then ask yourself – how you sit your kids down and tell them you want this person to lead us. “

On Monday morning, the White House Press Secretary (@PressSec) Stephanie Grisham weighed in, trying to distance the president from the violent clip, which contained a Trump campaign logo. She tweeted, “Re: the video played over the weekend: The @POTUS @realDonaldTrump has not yet seen the video, he will see it shortly, but based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video.”

Research contact: @nytimes

In court filing, Mueller reveals how he may use Trump’s Twitter feed against him

November 23, 2018

In a seven-page court document filed on November 21 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia—which recommends denying the motion of defendant George Papadopoulos for continued bail—Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller sent a clear message that if, the targets of his investigation post messages on Twitter, those tweets will come back to haunt them, Inquisitr reported.

Mueller’s team is monitoring their Twitter feeds. That message that could spell danger for President Donald Trump, whom, experts say, is the author of many tweets that could incriminate him.

As Inquisitr reported (and the court document detailed), Papadopoulos was told in April 2016 by a Russia-linked academic about “thousands” of hacked Democratic emails containing “dirt” on opposition candidate Hillary Clinton that were in the Russian government’s possession, a fact about which he lied to FBI investigators.

Papadopolous pled guilty last year to lying to the FBI in connection with the Russia investigation, and is scheduled to start serving a 14-day sentence on November 26. The short sentence resulted from a plea deal the Papadopoulos struck with Mueller, in which he agreed to cooperate with the Russia probe.

But, the Inquisitr said, in recent weeks, Papadopoulos has taken to Twitter to claim that he was “framed.”

Mueller cited Papadopoulos’s tweets specifically in his filing, saying, “For example, on October 25, 2018, the defendant publicly tweeted that his prosecution constituted ‘the biggest case of entrapment.’”

The court document went on to detail that, several days later, the defendant publicly tweeted: “I have been sentenced to prison in our country while having exculpatory evidence hidden from me. If I knew what I knew today, I would have never plead guilty.”

On November 9, 2018, the defendant tweeted, “Biggest regret? Pleading guilty.”

In Mueller’s filing, he noted that tweets posted by Papadopoulos since he was sentenced on September 8 “appear to be inconsistent with his stated acceptance of responsibility at sentencing.

Mueller specifically cited a Twitter post in which the former Trump campaign adviser stated that pleading guilty constituted his “biggest regret.”

The use of Twitter as substantiation of guilt by the Russia investigation does not bode well for President Trump. For example, in his tweet on 8:35 a.m. on August 5, the president tried to defend the June 2016 meeting with Kremlin-connected Russians who claimed to have “dirt” on Clinton that they hoped the campaign could use.

“Fake News reporting,” the Trump tweet said, continuing, “…a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it.”

What’s more, the list of questions for Trump drawn up by Mueller’s team may have been based directly on a number of Trump’s tweets.

Perhaps most notably, the questions also suggest that Mueller has been paying close attention to Trump’s Twitter feed,” Quartz reported at that time, adding, “Trump has already tweeted about many incidents relevant to Mueller’s inquiries, which might make it that much more difficult for Trump (and his lawyers) to skirt the questions.”

Research contact: @jonvankin

 

Three more administration officials head toward Trump’s losers’ circle

November 15, 2018

Insiders at the White House might be humming Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next,” as—just a week after requesting the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions—the president prepares once again to reconfigure his cabinet and West Wing staff.

First on the list of goners is almost certainly Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of Homeland Security. She has long been a target of Trump’s tirades, three people close to the president told The New York Times for a November 13 report. Indeed, the POTUS had floated the idea of dismissing Nielsen ahead of his trip to Paris for World War I commemoration ceremonies.

And if Nielsen goes, one of her strong supporters may be ousted, too. Internally at the White House, the Times said, removing Nielsen is perceived as a way for President Trump to push out White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, without directly firing him.

Although, the news outlet said, Trump and Kelly supposedly arrived at a plan earlier this year for the chief of staff to stay through the 2020 election, the POTUS privately has hinted that he would not bet on Kelly remaining in his job that long.

Kelly’s likely successor already is in the queue: Nick Ayers, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, long has been seen as a prospective replacement for Kelly, if and when he makes his exit—and is favored by the president’s family members, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Trump.

Finally, another administration official who is at or near the departures gate, following a run-in with First Lady Melania Trump, is Mira Ricardel, who serves as a deputy to National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Ricardel, who previously worked at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill, had disparaged two members of the East Wing staff during the FLOTUS’s trip to Africa last month, a Times source said. She also is rumored to have tangled with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on issues of policy and Pentagon personnel.

The rift with Melania Trump hit the headlines this week when—in a highly unusual statement about West Wing personnel matters—a spokesperson for the first lady, Stephanie Grisham, addressed Ricardel’s status. “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” Grisham said.

Since the president hates interpersonal confrontation, he often delays dismissals and then delegates them to Kelly. How these next staff changes will be handled is anybody’s guess.

Research contact: @maggieNYT

Editor’s update (11/15): Mira Ricardel now has been removed from her national security job in the White House and will continue to serve the administration in another role.

Giuliani: ‘Collusion is not a crime’

July 31, 2018

Rudy Giuliani, attorney and spokesperson for President Donald Trump, said in a pair of July 30 interviews that he was at a loss for how colluding with the Russians would be categorized as a crime, Business Insider reported.

The comment—all but an admission that the POTUS had, indeed, colluded with a hostile foreign power—came shortly after Trump’s former personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen claimed to CNN on July 26 that he was with his then-boss and several other Trump Organization executives in 2016 when Donald Trump, Jr., told his father he could “get dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton from the Russians.

Instead of denying that there was any collusion, as Trump has been doing since he took office, Giuliani shifted the conversation by noting that the president did not “pay them for hacking,” which he said was the real offense.

Speaking with the hosts of the Fox and Friends morning show, Giuliani said he has “been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime.

“Collusion is not a crime,” he said, adding that the president is “absolutely innocent.”

Then in a discussion with CNN’s New Day, Giuliani said if you “start analyzing the crime, the hacking is the crime.”

“The president didn’t hack,” Giuliani said. “He didn’t pay them for hacking. If you got the hacked information from the Russians here at CNN and you played it, would you be in jeopardy of going to jail? Of course not.”

Giuliani’s comments came a day after Trump took to Twitter to again attack Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump tweeted that there was “No Collusion!” and added that Mueller’s “rigged witch hunt” was “an illegal Scam!”

During his Monday interviews, Giuliani questioned Cohen’s credibility and said the president “did not participate” in the meeting with the Russians, Business Insider said..

Giuliani told CNN he was “happy to tell” Mueller that Trump “wasn’t at the meeting.” Giuliani added that other individuals who could corroborate Cohen’s account would not do so—charging that Cohen is making these claims now because he feels the criminal investigation closing in on him.

Based on the findings of a July 24 Quinnipiac University poll, American voters believe 51% versus 35% “that the Russian government has compromising information about President Trump.” A total of 68% of American voters are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about President Trump’s relationship with Russia, while 32% are “not so concerned” or “not concerned at all.”

Research contact: brown@quinnipiac.edu

The knives are out: Cohen says former boss knew about Trump Tower meet, POTUS issues denial

July 30, 2018

The knives are out. The confrontation between President Donald Trump and his former personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen has escalated, with Cohen claiming to CNN on July 26 that he was with his then-boss and several other Trump Organization executives in 2016 when Donald Trump, Jr., told his father he could “get dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton from the Russians.

On Twitter early on July 27, President Trump strongly denied the story, writing: “… I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr. Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?)”

Sources told CNN that not only does Cohen claim that President Trump had advance knowledge of the meeting in Trump Tower involving Donald Trump Jr., as well as Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, but he is willing to tell Special Counsel Robert Mueller all about it in support of collusion claims for the Russia investigation. The sources said Cohen does not have evidence, such as audio recordings, to corroborate his claim, but he is willing to attest to his account.

It already has been established—in an admission by Trump Jr.—that Trump’s campaign staff expected to receive dirt, which they labeled as “opposition research,” on Clinton at the June 2016 meeting. However, unlike the Trumps, US intelligence agencies say Russia interfered to support Trump’s candidacy.

Cohen is under criminal investigation in the Southern District of New York because of his business dealings and efforts during the 2016 campaign to suppress negative stories about Trump. An FBI raid on Cohen’s office in April sought information about taxi owners who had financial dealings with Cohen, CNN has reported.

Cohen has hired Lanny Davis, a former special counsel to President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings, to represent him.

“(Cohen) even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary’s (Clinton) lawyer,” Trump also wrote, referring to Davis. “Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!”

Trump did not respond to shouted questions about Cohen from reporters after speaking about the economy at the White House Friday morning.

In an interview on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” Thursday night, Trump’s lawyer in the Russia investigation, Rudy Giuliani, called Cohen a “pathological liar.”

“I don’t see how he’s got any credibility,” the former New York City mayor said.

In a poll released last week by The Hill, Americans said that they believe that Russia continues to want to interfere in U.S. elections and will do so in the lead-up to the midterms. Jointly conducted by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist, the poll found that 57% of Americans said they believe Russia is likely to attempt to interfere in November; versus 38%, who said the Kremlin is not likely to do so.

Research contact: @maristpoll

Warner: Trump Tower meeting with Gulf envoys substantiates ‘larger pattern of concern’

May 22, 2018

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN on May 20 that Donald Trump Jr.’s alleged meeting at Trump Tower on August 3, 2016, with a Gulf emissary who offered help to his father’s presidential campaign could be “evidence of a larger pattern of concern.”

The meeting—which The New York Times disclosed on May 19—was supposedly arranged by former Blackwater head and Trump financial backer Erik Prince; and attended by the president’s eldest son; as well as George Nadar, an emissary for two princes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; and Israeli social media specialist Joel Zamel.

The Times further reported that Zamel talked about how his company could help a political campaign gain an advantage. According to the Times, the company had by then put together “a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect Mr. Trump.”

Donald Trump Jr. has said that he did not react to those offers of help from the Middle East. However, according to the Times report, “Donald Trump Jr. responded approvingly … and … Nader was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers—meeting frequently with … [the elder Trump’s son-in-law] Jared Kushner … and Michael T. Flynn, who became the president’s first national security adviser.”

The August meeting followed a June 2016 confab with a group of Russians that Trump Jr. at first had characterized as a discussion about adoption—but that has been shown by emails, leaks, and media reports to be an attempt by the presidential campaign staff to get dirt on the Hillary Clinton campaign.

When news of the secret meeting with the Russians emerged a year afterward, a majority of U.S. voters polled by Politico/Morning Consult said that it was inappropriate for Donald Trump Jr. to accept an offer to meet with an attorney linked to the Russian government.”

Specifically, more than half (52%) said the meeting with a Russian government attorney was inappropriate. Only 23% of respondents characterized the meeting with a Russian government attorney as appropriate. The remaining 25% had no opinion.

I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. It’s called opposition research, or even research into your opponent,” President Trump responded at that time—adding that it is “very standard in politics. Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard where they have information and you take the information.”

As information continues to come out about meetings with foreign intermediaries, Senator Warner said on Sunday, “”If the Times story is true, we now have at least a second and maybe a third nation that was trying to lean into this campaign,”

Warner said on CNN’s State of the Union. “I don’t understand what the president doesn’t get about the law that says if you have a foreign nation interfere in an American election, that’s illegal.”

Research contact: @maeganvaz