One of Trump’s greatest skills has been has been deceiving banks, insurance companies and government tax agencies. Four years ago I wrote a long Washington Post analysis titled, “6 essential cons that define Trump’s success.” (also available with no paywall here). Con No. 1 was, “To borrow billions, Trump lies to inflate his net worth.” Con No. 2 was: “To avoid taxes, Trump lies to deflate his net worth.”
For decades Trump has avoided accountability for these cons. No longer. New York State Attorney General Leticia James’ explosive civil lawsuit last September against Trump and his executives began the process by presenting documented proof of financial crimes.
This month’s Manhattan District Attorney’s indictment could have used this evidence as the basis for his criminal charges against Trump, but instead focused solely on the misclassifying the Stormy Daniels hush money payments.
James’ civil suit resulted from interviews with 65 witnesses and the review of millions of pages of official documents including dozens of fraudulent statements signed by Donald Trump or his employees and provided to tax, insurance and bank oversight agencies year after year.
As I explained on CNN New Day (video here) in September shortly after the NYS AG case was filed (video here), Trump and did not break any laws when they lied to journalists like me about his net worth, even when he infamously pretended to be his fictitious “VP of Finance John Barron” to con his way to a higher net worth (recounted in the Washington Post, with excerpts from the startling recordings I made of the phone interviews, here).
Trump’s actions entered the criminal realm when he and his employees, the NYS AG alleged, “engaged in numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation in the preparation of Mr. Trump’s annual statements of financial condition… All told, Mr. Trump, the Trump Organization, and the other Defendants, as part of a repeated pattern and common scheme, derived more than 200 false and misleading valuations of assets included in the 11 Statements covering 2011 through 2021.”
The state civil suit seeks to effectively force the members of the Trump family out of the real estate business in New York, as well as cash damages of $250 million. The Attorney General also referred the treasure trove of documentation to New York state prosecutors to consider likely criminal charges.
There is no wiggle room, to a juror, about the intentional fraud of multiple financial statements provided to oversight agencies that overvalued the former president’s Trump Tower penthouse because it is one-third the size of the 30,000 square feet described in signed financial statements. This is a red flag and any juror looking at this, knows to be truth.
As described in James’ 215 page indictment, “Mr. Trump’s own triplex apartment in Trump Tower was valued as being 30,000 square feet when it was, in fact, 10,996 square feet. As a result, in 2015 the apartment was valued at $327 million in total, or $29,738 per square foot. That price was absurd given the fact that at that point only one apartment in New York City had ever sold for even $100 million, at a price per square foot of less than $10,000. And that sale was in a newly built, ultra-tall tower. In 30 year-old Trump Tower, the record sale as of 2015 was a mere $16.5 million at a price of less than $4,500 per square foot.”
Trump also overvalued an easement donation of land from his Seven Springs property, resulting in an underpayment of taxes by $2.5 million.