If Trump’s Adult Children Helped Him Commit Fraud, New York Prosecutors Are About to Find Out

Pop Culture
A judge has ordered the Trump Organization to hand over Ivanka, Eric, and Don Jr.’s company devices to the New York Attorney General’s office. 

Time was, U.S. presidents left office and focused on their philanthropic foundations, became amateur painters, and wrote very long books. Then there’s Donald Trump, who’s taken a slightly different tack, in that he spends his day crashing weddings, trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and drowning in lawsuits, civil probes, and criminal investigations.

One of the most significant legal actions, of course, is the Manhattan district attorney’s inquiry into Trump and his company’s financial dealings, which has thus far resulted in 15 charges against the Trump Organization and its longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg. (Both parties have pleaded not guilty to all counts, which include criminal tax fraud, grand larceny, falsifying business records, and scheming to defraud the government.) But there are also at least three other criminal inquiries, numerous lawsuits, and an investigation by the New York attorney general’s office, which is about to get a cornucopia of key documents no thanks to the ex-president’s company.

In a September 2 order unsealed Friday, a judge said that the Trump Organization must comply with subpoenas issued by New York attorney general Letitia James’s office, or hire an outside firm to search through its documents and turn them over to prosecutors. According to Bloomberg, the company has until September 30 to “report on its efforts to preserve, collect, and produce all documents responsive to subpoenas issued by James as part of a civil probe into whether the company manipulated the value of its assets for loans and tax breaks,” as ordered by state court Justice Arthur Engoron. If James isn’t satisfied, the Trump Organization will have to hire a third party to oversee compliance, and while it is free to select one, the attorney general will have to approve it, according to The Daily Beast—in case anyone was thinking of hiring Rudy Giuliani & Sons at Your Service LLC. Per Bloomberg:

James sued in August 2020 to enforce about half a dozen subpoenas, including one issued to the company’s former tax attorney. The probe is separate from the recent criminal prosecution of the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, which James’s office is pursuing in cooperation with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. The Trump Organization’s press office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A focus of the attorney general is the appraisal of Seven Springs, a property on 212 acres in Westchester County, outside New York City. James is examining whether Trump’s company gave an accurate valuation for the property when it served as the basis for about $21.1 million in tax deductions for donating a conservation easement for the 2015 tax year. The investigation is [also] looking into transactions involving a neo-Gothic Trump skyscraper in Manhattan called 40 Wall Street, as well as the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago and a Los Angeles golf club, court records show. 

According to Bloomberg, it’s not just Trump who should be concerned about the judge’s order, but his adult children as well. The government’s search includes devices issued “to about two dozen people involved with the company, including Trump and three of his adult children, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump,” according to the outlet. Per The Daily Beast, others include chief operating officer Matthew Calamari, company controller Jeffrey S. McConney, Weisselberg, and Trump’s personal assistant Rhona Graff, whose correspondence could be extremely illuminating given that Trump has been known to personally eschew email and likely relied on other people to share his thoughts in writing. Last fall, The New York Times reported that one of the ways Trump was able to frequently pay virtually nothing in federal income taxes was by writing off virtually every aspect of his life as a business expense. That, according to the Times, has included flights between his homes, meals, and $70,000 worth of haircuts, in addition to classifying Seven Springs as an investment property, despite Eric Trump telling Forbes in 2014 that the place is a family compound.

While the New York attorney general and the Manhattan district attorney are jointly prosecuting the criminal tax fraud case against the Trump Organization and Weisselberg, this civil probe is unrelated to, and predates, that effort. And, as The Daily Beast notes, the A.G.’s office has a success record against Trump entities that should probably worry the ex-president:

The A.G.’s office had already completed a series of successful lawsuits against Trump and his companies. It played a key role in a nationwide class action lawsuit that exposed the false promises of his for-profit “education” scandal, Trump University. Next, the A.G.’s office targeted the Trump Foundation and got a judge to dismantle the real estate mogul’s charity by proving it had made glaring accounting errors and been misused to further his political campaign for president. By 2019, the office of the top prosecutor in New York state had set its sights on the Trump Organization itself, exploring whether company officers had lied about real estate values in an effort to commit bank fraud.

In a statement issued after the judge’s order, James said: “For more than a year now, the Trump Organization has failed to adequately respond to our subpoenas, hiding behind procedural delays and excuses. Once again, the court has ordered that the Trump Organization must turn over the information and documents we are seeking, otherwise face an independent third-party that will ensure that takes place.”

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Speaking of subpoenas…

The House commission investigating January 6 has issued some of its own. Per The Washington Post:

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has issued subpoenas to two top Trump White House officials, former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, as well as to Kash Patel, who was serving as chief of staff to the acting defense secretary that day. An additional subpoena targets longtime Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon. The subpoenas were announced Thursday evening by the committee, which has moved its inquiry into a new, more aggressive stage after requesting White House records last month and sending preservation requests for records to telecom and social media companies…. Along with asking Meadows, Scavino, Patel and Bannon to hand over records, the committee is instructing the four men to appear for depositions in mid-October.

In a letter accompanying the subpoena to Meadows, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), writes that the panel has obtained “credible evidence” of Meadows’s involvement within “the scope of the select committee’s inquiry.” The letter cites several examples of Meadows’s communication and proximity to the former president leading up to and on the day of the insurrection.

In its letter to Scavino, the committee wrote: “it appears you were with or in the vicinity of former president Trump on January 6 and are a witness to his activities that day. You may also have material relevant to his video taping and tweeting messages on Jan 6.” The letter cites a report from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s Peril, which notes that Scavino was also with Trump on January 5 “when he and others were considering how to convince Members of Congress not to certify the election for Joe Biden.” Writing to Bannon, the committee said the White House adviser turned podcast host has “information relevant to understanding important activities that led to and informed the events at the Capitol” on January 6. “For example,” the letter says, “you have been identified as present at the Willard Hotel on January 5, 2021, during an effort to persuade Members of Congress to block the certification of the election the next day, and in relation to other activities on January 6. You are also described as communicating with then-President Trump on December 30, 2020, and potentially other occasions, urging him to plan for and focus his efforts on January 6.” This week, Bannon admitted that he told Trump before the January 6 insurrection that he needed to “kill [the Biden] administration in the crib early on.”

Bannon and Scavino did not respond to requests for comment. Meadows could not be reached. Patel issued a statement Thursday evening saying, “I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Committee tried to subpoena me through the press…before seeking my voluntary cooperation. I will continue to tell the truth to the American people about the events of January 6th.”

Rudy Giuliani is sad

One day you’re sharing every insane thought that pops into your head with the Fox News audience, the next you’re reportedly persona non grata:

Giuliani has been banned from Fox News for almost three months. As if the sting of that weren’t painful enough, the “9/11 mayor” learned of his banishment…on the eve of Sept. 11. Giuliani was slated to appear on Fox & Friends to mark the 20th anniversary of the attack. But the night before, host Pete Hegseth called Giuliani to say he’d been cut from the show and apologize. The ban extends not just to Giuliani, but also to his son Andrew, who has not been on Fox News since he launched his campaign for governor of New York in May despite many requests to go on the network…bookers have told both Giulianis the ban comes from the top, sources said. The former New York City mayor had been a fixture on the network.

“Rudy is really hurt because he did a big favor for Rupert [Murdoch],” a source close to Giuliani said. “He was instrumental in getting Fox on Time Warner so it could be watched in New York City.” In 1996, Giuliani’s administration advocated for Time Warner to carry the newly launched Fox News Channel, intervening in a dispute between Murdoch and the cable provider.

While it’s not clear exactly what caused Giuliani to be reportedly banned, it may have something to do with Dominion Voting Systems suing Fox News for allowing guests—like, for example, Rudy—to air their baseless voter-fraud claims on the network. (Fox has filed to dismiss the suit, claiming that Dominion cannot prove that Fox acted in malice.) Or maybe they just don’t want to be associated with restaurant grooming. Could be any number of things!

Elsewhere!

House passes legislation creating statutory right to abortion amid battle over Texas law (The Washington Post)

Biden urges front-line workers, Americans over 65, those with health conditions who got Pfizer vaccine to get booster shot (The Washington Post)

Biden harshly condemns horseback wrangling images from border: “It’s horrible what you saw” (CNN)

Chuck Grassley, the oldest GOP senator at 88, announces he will seek another term (The Washington Post)

CNN’s Chris Cuomo accused of sexual harassment by his former boss (The Week)

Greener pastures: Marijuana jobs are becoming a refuge for retail and restaurant workers (The Washington Post)

U.S. Could Hit Debt Limit as Soon as Mid-October, Analysts Say (NYT)

“Millions of people have found solace during the pandemic in cuddling a dog or cat. For a few, comfort comes in other forms—those of a horse or a pig, perhaps a possum-like sugar glider or even a tarantula.” (AP)

Look at These Pictures of Angela Merkel Surrounded by Exotic Birds (Vice)

Anderson Cooper Says His 85-Year-Old Mom Once Offered to Carry His Child (Vanities)

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