New York expands probes of Trump Organization

The state of New York late Monday issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank Monday for records relating to financing four major Trump Organization projects and the company’s failed effort to buy the Buffalo Bills National Football League franchise.

The move by the state’s attorney general expands existing investigations of Trump’s tax practices and use of his now-defunct charity to fund his personal lifestyle.

Fordham Law School professor Jed Handelsman Shugerman says such moves are needed and long overdue.

“The allegations of criminal conduct by Donald Trump and Trump Organization officials are no longer mere speculation or reporting,” he writes in an OpEd article in Monday’s New York Times. “The public record establishes probable cause for campaign finance felonies, and a potential case for criminal tax fraud, bank fraudinsurance fraud and suborning perjury to hide shady business dealings — a staggering mix of state and federal crimes implicating a range of Trump Organization officials.”

Testimony from former Trump’s former personal attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen testified Trump inflated his assets and lied to Deutsche Bank to obtain financing for his projects.

New York wants loan applications, mortgages, lines of credit and information on financing transactions involved with Trump International Hotel in Washington, the Trump National Doral near Miami and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.

The actions by New York Attorney General Letitia James are a civil action at this point but she has the power to also seek criminal indictments.

Writes law professor Shugerman:

State attorneys general — especially New York Attorney General Letitia James — should not wait for any Justice Department official to hold Trump accountable for potential crimes. They also do not need to wait to build a case for criminal indictments. The appropriate immediate path is a special state civil proceeding against the Trump Organization and its officials.

Deutsche Bank became Trump’s primary source of money when American banks cut him off after too many questionable loans and losses.  The bank gave Trump more than $100 million in 2012 to buy the Doral Golf Resort in 2012 and $170 million in 2015 to Washington’s Old Post Office into his luxury hotel in the nation’s capital.  That hotel, and the money paid to it by foreign governments and officials who stay there, has resulted in lawsuits charging Trump with violating federal laws that prohibit him from profiting while president.

The New York attorney general is not alone in investigating Trump’s often-controversial business transactions.  The House Intelligence Committee in Washington is probing his real estate transactions with Russia and other foreign entities and Deutsche Bank’s financing of his operations.

Ms. James took over from former Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, we resigned under fire for sexual abuse claims, and promised to pursue Trump.

“I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings, and every dealing, demanding truthfulness at every turn.” she said in her victory speech when elected.  She later said “we will use every area of the law to investigate president Trump and his business transactions and that of his family.”

Deutsche Bank has not responded to requests for comments.

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Feds subpoena Trump inauguration documents

President Donald Trump (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Federal prosecutors in New York issued a subpoena Monday seeking documents from Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, furthering a federal inquiry into a fund that has faced mounting scrutiny into how it raised and spent its money.

Inaugural committee spokeswoman Kristin Celauro told The Associated Press that the committee had received the subpoena and was still reviewing it.

“It is our intention to cooperate with the inquiry,” she said.

A second spokesman, Owen Blicksilver, declined to answer questions about which documents prosecutors requested. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, which issued the subpoena, declined to comment.

The investigation is the latest in a series of criminal inquiries into Trump’s campaign and presidency. Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia and whether the president obstructed the investigation. In a separate case in New York, prosecutors say Trump directed his personal lawyer Michael Cohen to make illegal hush-money payments to two women as a way to quash potential sex scandals during the campaign.

The Wall Street Journal, citing a copy of the subpoena, reported that prosecutors asked for “all documents” related to the committee’s donors and vendors, as well as records relating to “benefits” donors received after making contributions.

The newspaper reported late last year that federal prosecutors are investigating whether committee donors made contributions in exchange for political favors— a potential violation of federal corruption laws. It said the inquiry also was focused on whether the inauguration misspent the $107 million it raised to stage events celebrating Trump’s inauguration.

The subpoena also requested documents relating to donations “made by or on behalf of foreign nationals, including but not limited to any communications regarding or relating to the possibility of donations by foreign nationals,” the Journal reported.

The New York Times reported late last year that federal prosecutors are examining whether anyone from Qatar, Saudi Arabia or other Middle Eastern countries made illegal payments to the committee and a pro-Trump super political action committee. Foreign contributions to inaugural funds and PACs are prohibited under federal law.

The head of the inaugural committee, Tom Barrack, confirmed to The Associated Press that he was questioned by Mueller in 2017. He told the AP he was not a target of the Mueller investigation.

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