Here’s Donald Trump’s real humiliation in the New York Attorney General’s trial
« Poor Donald Trump. »
It is a phrase now with a double meaning.
Poor Donald, the demonized and witch-hunted is the refrain the former US president and his loyalists sang throughout the criminal investigation into his handling of classified government records.
On Wednesday, there was another round of those full-throated screams.
But to this must be added the freshly filed civil complaint from Letitia James, the Attorney General of New York: that the archetypal American business magnate was only a shadow of the master he claimed to be.
Perhaps « poor » isn’t the word to use when billions of dollars are at stake, as the civil lawsuit against Trump claims. Although « not as rich » doesn’t sound the same.
It may not surprise much of the world, but Trump was less than he claimed to be, according to the lawsuit.
Trump was, in James’s words, a man trained not in the « art of the bargain » but in the « art of theft. »
Not a free market magician, but a fraud.
Specifically, he allegedly committed acts of falsification of business documents, publication of false financial statements, insurance fraud and conspiracy around each of these offenses.
« We believe the conduct alleged in this action also violates federal criminal law, » James said, adding that the findings of the investigation would be forwarded to the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service.
But it’s not just the former president in the hot seat.
The lawsuit alleges that the entire Trump family – except for his wife Melania and youngest children Tiffany and Barron – were involved in a criminal scheme that could lead to the dissolution of Trump’s beloved business empire.
It is the result of a three-year investigation that involved 65 witnesses, millions of pages of documents and the work of a team of forensic accountants.
Trump, his blood co-defendants and supporters were quick to add on Wednesday that the job was being led by James, a Democrat who campaigned for attorney general on a promise to target Trump and is running for re-election. November 8.
The layman will understandably find it difficult to follow all the intricate details of the investigation, but the character trait at issue should be familiar to even casual observers of American politics.
I just flash back to Trump’s 2017 presidential inauguration, when then-press secretary Sean Spicer ignored photographic evidence of the uneven crowd at the Washington Mall and claimed, « It was the most large audience ever seen at an inauguration – period – both in person and around the globe. »
In this case, Trump claimed he drew a crowd that was between 2.5 and five times larger than what some estimates actually showed up.
It should come as no surprise that the ratio grows exponentially with the money in play.
In the case of one property named in the lawsuit, Trump Park Avenue, the Trump Organization in 2011 and 2012 declared in mandatory annual financial statements that the value of 12 rent-stabilized residential apartments in the building was $49 $596,000 (US) – about 65 times more than the $750,000 they were valued just a year earlier, in 2010.
Trump allegedly inflated the value of his beloved golf clubs by adding a 30% Trump « brand premium » to the prices despite reports in the financial statements that these additional costs were included.
He also allegedly pumped the value of his Mar-a-Lago estate by allowing the « false premise » that it could be developed for residential purposes when he knew such activity was restricted. Prosecutors allege he explicitly downplayed those restrictions in order to increase the value of the property to $739 million when it was likely worth closer to $75 million.
Even Trump’s own apartment in Trump Tower was part of the alleged scheme. It was valued in the financial statements at $327 million and listed as 30,000 square feet when it was only about a third the size, and therefore worth much less.
These are just a handful of the violations contained in the 222-page lawsuit, which is a catalog of more than 200 « false and misleading assessments » that appeared in the Trump Organization’s financial statements between 2011 and 2021.
« The number of grossly inflated asset values is staggering, affecting most if not all real estate in any given year, » the lawsuit alleges.
But when does a Manhattan tycoon’s swagger cross the line into robbery?
The lawsuit alleges that Trump used the hot-air financial statements to make him look richer than he actually was. He then used this high net worth to obtain favorable terms on financing transactions from bankers and insurers.
« Ordinary people can’t lie to a bank about how much money they have to get a good loan to buy a house or send their child to college, » James said. “And if they did, the government would throw the book at them. Why should it be any different? »
Lawsuit says Trump relied on his falsified financial statements to make $125 million loan to Deutsche Bank tied to property purchase; and to fund $107 million of debt on the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, then secure a $54 million extension on the loan.
He also used the inflated financial statements to secure a $170 million loan from Deutsche Bank that financed the purchase of the Old Post Office, a federal building in Washington, D.C. The building on Pennsylvania Avenue was converted into a Trump-branded luxury hotel and last sold May for a profit of $100 million.
« It was a scheme that by its very nature became more profitable over time and all in clear violation of the law, » James said, adding that the total profit over a decade of falsified financial statements was at least $250 million.
Trump did not respond to the specific allegations against him, but called James a « total crime-fighting disaster. »
« (She) spends all of her time fighting for very powerful, well-represented banks and insurance companies that have been fully paid, have made a lot of money, and have never had to complain about me at all. instead of fighting murder and violent crime, » he said. writing on social media.
The potential repercussions of the lawsuit could be devastating for Trump and the reputation he has built as a mogul.
James said his office wants to bar Trump and his children Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr. from serving as officers or directors of a New York-registered company. He wants to ban Trump from engaging in real estate acquisitions or seeking loans from New York financial institutions for five years. He wants an independent monitor to ensure the Trump Organization complies with reporting and disclosure laws for five years and also requires Trump to disclose the full financial benefits he has obtained from the schemes.
But most humiliating for a man whose fate has always been tied to Manhattan’s famous skyline is the threat of a permanent ban from Trump or any of his companies named in the lawsuit doing business in the New York State.
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