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Monday, March 20, 2023

Trump Comes Under Fire from New York AG

Late Tuesday, the New York attorney general’s office informed a judge that its investigators had found evidence that former President Donald Trump’s corporation used “fraudulent or deceptive” asset values to gain loans and tax breaks.

According to the court filing, state officials haven’t decided whether to file a civil action in response to the claims, but detectives must interrogate Trump and his two eldest children as part of the investigation.

The probe, according to Trump and his lawyers, is politically motivated.

Attorney General Letitia James’ office provided the most thorough explanation yet of a long-running inquiry into charges that Trump’s corporation inflated the value of assets to obtain advantageous loan conditions or misrepresented the value of property to reduce its tax burden in court records.

It claimed that the Trump Organization exaggerated the value of land contributions made in New York and California on documentation filed to the IRS to justify tax deductions worth millions of dollars.

According to James’ office, the company misrepresented the size of Trump’s Manhattan penthouse, claiming it was nearly three times its actual size, resulting in a $200 million difference in value, as evidenced by deposition testimony from Trump’s longtime financial chief Allen Weisselberg, who was charged with tax fraud last year in a separate criminal investigation.

In a court document, James’ office disclosed its findings in an attempt to compel Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump, and his son Donald Trump Jr. to testify in response to subpoenas.

Investigators “discovered considerable more evidence showing that the Trump Organization utilized false or deceptive asset assessments to acquire a plethora of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions,” according to the court filings.

The subpoenas have been challenged by Trump’s legal team, who have called them “an unprecedented and unlawful tactic.” They claim James is seeking to acquire testimony that might be utilized in a separate criminal inquiry led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Last month, Trump filed a federal lawsuit against James, hoping to put a halt to her inquiry. His attorneys argued that the Democratic attorney general had violated the Republican’s constitutional rights in a “thinly-veiled endeavor to publicly denigrate Trump and his associates” in the lawsuit.

In the past, the Republican ex-president has referred to James’ and Bragg’s investigations as a “witch hunt.”

James’ office said in a statement late Tuesday that it hasn’t determined whether to seek legal action, but that the information gathered thus far demonstrates the probe should continue unhindered.

“The Trump Organization has utilized delay tactics and lawsuits to frustrate a legitimate examination of its financial affairs for more than two years,” James stated. “We have identified considerable evidence so far in our inquiry that implies Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization improperly and fraudulently valued several assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for financial gain.”

Despite the fact that James’ civil inquiry is independent from the criminal probe, her office has been active in both, sending a team of lawyers to work with prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

According to James’ office, companies found to have committed commercial fraud could face “a broad range of remedies” under state law, including “revocation of a license to conduct business within the state, moving to have an officer or director removed from the board of directors, and restitution and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains.”

Another court previously ruled with James on a request to interview another Trump son, Trump Organization executive Eric Trump, who eventually agreed to a deposition but refused to answer some questions.

The Trump Organization and Weisselberg, its longstanding top financial officer, were charged with tax evasion by the Manhattan district attorney last year.

Weisselberg has pleaded not guilty to accusations that he and his firm underpaid taxes on lavish executive fringe perks.

Both investigations stem from charges made in press stories and by Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, that Trump had a history of falsifying the worth of his assets.

The revelations regarding the attorney general’s probe came on the same day that Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani and other members of the legal team that attempted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results were subpoenaed by a House committee probing the U.S. Capitol insurgency.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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