New York AG Probing Whether Trump Organization ‘Improperly’ Inflated Value of Assets

August 24, 2020 Updated: August 24, 2020

New York State’s attorney general revealed on Monday that she is investigating whether President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization had “improperly” manipulated the value of his assets on annual financial statements in order to secure loans and obtain tax benefits.

Letitia James, the state’s attorney general, said she had been probing the allegations since 2019 after Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen testified before Congress. The investigation has remained confidential for months.

She said that the Trump Organization and other respondents have already acknowledged the investigation and has already produced “significant amounts of responsive information,” however, the parties have come to a disagreement on a narrow set of issues that have reached an impasse.

James is now seeking the New York County State Supreme Court to intervene and compel the Trump Organization, its executive vice president, Eric Trump, and other respondents to comply with several subpoenas, which she said would provide her office with thousands of documents and testimony from witnesses about properties and transactions of the company.

She accused the business, Eric Trump, and other associates of stalling and stonewalling the investigation by refusing to produce the request documents and refusing to appear to give testimony under the subpoena, according to a motion and memorandum (pdf) filed in the court on Monday.

The 68-page memo stated that Eric Trump had initially agreed to a date for testimony but the Trump Organization “has now refused entirely to comply with a subpoena for Eric Trump’s testimony.”

Epoch Times Photo
Eric Trump, son of President Donald Trump, walks outside of Trump Tower in New York City on Aug. 15, 2017. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

“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,” James said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization denied the allegations to The Epoch Times in an emailed statement, saying that the company “has done nothing wrong.”

“This is simply a discovery dispute over documents and the like. The Trump Organization has done nothing wrong and, as the motion papers clearly state, the NYAG has made no determination that anything was improper or that any action is forthcoming,” the statement said.

“While we have tried to cooperate in good faith with the investigation at every turn, the NYAG’s continued harassment of the company as we approach the election (and filing of this motion on the first day of the Republican National Convention) once again confirms that this investigation is all about politics.”

Epoch Times Photo
An exterior view of the entrance to the new Trump International Hotel at the old post office in Washington on Oct. 26, 2016. (Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)

The Trump Organization added that it will respond to the motion as appropriate.

James said that she was investigating several Trump Organization properties including the Seven Spring Estate, 40 Wall Street, the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago, and Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles. Apart from Eric Trump, she is also attempting to seek testimony from a land-use attorney who had worked with the Trump Organization in connection to the Seven Springs Estate.

The state attorney general provided some details about the investigation saying that one particular focus, for example, is whether the Trump Organization and its agents had manipulated the value of the Seven Springs Estate.

“Valuations of Seven Springs were used to claim an apparent $21.1 million tax deduction for donating a conservation easement on the property in tax year 2015, and in submissions to financial institutions as a component of Mr. Trump’s net worth,” the memo stated.

James added that the investigation has not concluded and that the attorney general has not reached a determination on whether the Trump Organization had violated any laws.

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