NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James this past Friday took legal action in an ongoing civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s financial dealings. Attorney General James opened an investigation into Donald Trump and the Trump Organization in 2019, after Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified before Congress that Trump’s annual financial statements inflated the values of Trump’s assets to obtain favorable terms for loans and insurance coverage, while also deflating the value of other assets to reduce real estate taxes. At dispute are seven subpoenas which would provide the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) with thousands of documents and testimony from multiple witnesses regarding several, specific Trump Organization properties and transactions. Among other things, the action seeks to compel the testimony of Trump Organization Executive Vice President Eric Trump, who was intimately involved in one or more transactions under review, as well as the production of thousands of documents wrongly withheld.
“Nothing will stop us from following the facts and the law, wherever they may lead. For months, the Trump Organization has made baseless claims in an effort to shield evidence from a lawful investigation into its financial dealings,” said Attorney General James. “They have stalled, withheld documents, and instructed witnesses, including Eric Trump, to refuse to answer questions under oath. That’s why we’ve filed a motion to compel the Trump Organization to comply with our office’s lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony. These questions will be answered and the truth will be uncovered, because no one is above the law.”
For months, the Trump Organization has acknowledged the OAG’s authority to investigate the matters alleged, and has professed cooperation, but has refused to produce documents on invalid grounds. In recent weeks, Eric Trump has refused to appear entirely to give testimony pursuant to a subpoena, despite his being an important character in certain transactions.
These events led Attorney General James to, last Friday, file a motion to compel testimony and documents in New York County State Supreme Court. Attorney General James asked the court to order the Trump Organization to furnish witnesses for interviews and to provide documents regarding specific Trump Organization properties and transactions.
Trump Organization Properties Being Investigated
* Seven Springs Estate: A 212-acre property in Westchester County, purchased by the Trump Organization in 1995. After efforts to develop the property were unsuccessful, the Trump Organization granted a conservation easement over 158 acres of the property in 2015.
* 40 Wall Street: A mixed use building in lower Manhattan that the Trump Organization owns an interest in. In 2010, the Trump Organization entered into a note and mortgage in connection with the property that was modified to have a total principal loan amount of $160 million — $20 million of which was personally guaranteed by Donald Trump.
* Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago: A hotel and residential complex in Chicago that was absent from Donald Trump’s “Statement of Financial Condition” in 2009 and in subsequent years.
* Trump National Golf Club – Los Angeles: A golf course and clubhouse in Los Angeles owned by the Trump Organization. The Trump Organization donated a conservation easement over part of the property in 2014 and received a tax deduction for it.
Individuals and Entities That Have Not Sufficiently Answered OAG Subpoenas
* Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization: Was scheduled for an OAG interview last month to discuss his role in certain Trump Organization projects. Despite earlier agreeing to be interviewed by the OAG, Eric Trump now refuses to appear.
* A land-use attorney who worked with the Trump Organization: A lawyer who worked with the Trump Organization in connection with the Seven Springs Estate.
Last Friday’s motion to compel was submitted under New York state’s Executive Law § 63(12), which gives the OAG broad powers to investigate fraud and illegality.
The OAG has reached no conclusions in this matter, and the investigation remains ongoing. A memorandum of law and first affirmation were filed in this matter.