Posts tagged with "Eric Trump"

Trump’s private residence in Florida is searched by F.B.I.

August 10, 2022

Former President Donald Trump said on Monday, August 8, that the F.B.I. had conducted what he referred to as an “unannounced” search of his Palm Beach, Florida, home on the grounds of the private Mar-a-Lago Club, and had broken open a safe—an account signaling a major escalation in the various investigations into the final stages of his presidency, reports The New York Times.

The search, according to multiple people familiar with the investigation, appeared to be focused on material that the former president had brought with him to Mar-a-Lago, when he left the White House. Those boxes contained many pages of classified documents, according to a person familiar with their contents.

Trump delayed returning 15 boxes of material requested by officials with the National Archives for many months, only doing so when there became a threat of action to retrieve them. The case was referred to the Justice Department by the archives early this year.

According to the Times, “The search marked the latest remarkable turn in the long-running investigations into Trump’s actions before, during and after his presidency—and even as he weighs announcing another candidacy for the White House.”

It came as the Justice Department has stepped up its separate inquiry into Trump’s efforts to remain in office after his defeat at the polls in the 2020 election and as the former president also faces an accelerating criminal inquiry in Georgia and civil actions in New York.

Trump has long cast the F.B.I. as a tool of Democrats who have been out to get him—and the search set off a furious reaction among his supporters in the Republican Party and on the far right of American politics. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader in the House, suggested that he intended to investigate Attorney General Merrick Garland if Republicans took control of the House in November.

The Times notes that the F.B.I. would have needed to convince a judge that it had probable cause that a crime had been committed, and that agents might find evidence at Mar-a-Lago, to get a search warrant. Proceeding with a search on a former president’s home would almost surely have required sign-off from top officials at the bureau and the Justice Department.

The search, however, does not mean prosecutors have determined that Mr. Trump committed a crime.

An F.B.I. representative declined to comment, as did Justice Department officials. The F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, was appointed by Trump.

Trump was in the New York area at the time of the search. “Another day in paradise,” he said Monday night during a telephone rally for Sarah Palin, who is running for a congressional seat in Alaska.

Eric Trump, one of his sons, told Fox News that he was the one who informed his father that the search was taking place, and he said the search warrant was related to presidential documents.

Trump, who campaigned for president in 2016 criticizing Hillary Clinton’s practice of maintaining a private email server for government-related messages while she was secretary of state, was known throughout his term to rip up official material that was intended to be held for presidential archives. One person familiar with his habits said that included classified material that was shredded in his bedroom and elsewhere.

The search was at least in part for whether any records remained at the club, a person familiar with it said. It took place on Monday morning, the person said, although Trump said agents were still there many hours later.

“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said, maintaining it was an effort to stop him from running for president in 2024. “Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries.”

Research contact: @nytimes

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