Among the many investigations into Trump’s alleged misconduct — political, financial, ethical, etc. — the New York attorney general’s inquiry into the Trump Organization’s relationship with Deutsche Bank could be the most embarrassing for the president, as it may reveal just how he conducts his business, and how much he is really worth. A taste of that potential revelation came on Monday evening, when the New York Times published a comprehensive report on Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, which loaned Trump a reported $2 billion over two decades.
Around 2004, shortly after the Trump Organization defaulted on hundreds of millions in bonds, Trump reportedly went to Deutsche’s commercial real estate unit in pursuit of a loan to build the 92-story Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago — but not before the bank realized that Trump, on paper, was not who he said he was:
Mr. Trump told Deutsche Bank his net worth was about $3 billion, but when bank employees reviewed his finances, they concluded he was worth about $788 million, according to documents produced during a lawsuit Mr. Trump brought against the former New York Times journalist Timothy O’Brien. And a senior investment-banking executive said in an interview that he and others cautioned that Mr. Trump should be avoided because he had worked with people in the construction industry connected to organized crime.
That revelation — Donald Trump was not a billionaire when The Apprentice began — has been public since at least 2009. But a pattern emerged in the Times’ interviews with more than 20 Deutsche Bank officials: Unconcerned by the real estate mogul’s obvious risk, the bank kept lending to Trump, even after he defaulted on loans and exaggerated his net worth.
In 2010, Trump looked to Deutsche for a loan to purchase the $100 million Doral Golf Resort outside of Miami. Two of the bank’s former executives claim that, in his 2010 loan application, Trump overvalued some of his real estate assets by as much as 70 percent. Four years later, when Trump hoped to purchase the Buffalo Bills, the NFL required that he prove he had the assets to pull off the billion-dollar deal. Trump then sent Deutsche Bank “bare-bones financial statements that estimated his net worth at $8.7 billion.”
In February, Michael Cohen testified that Trump had inflated his assets in the attempt to purchase the Bills. Deutsche executives came to a similar conclusion; still, an executive involved with the deal claims the bank vouched for Trump anyway.
To add a touch of color, the report also contains a fun detail about the president’s notorious stinginess. In 2003, Trump reportedly dangled a Mar-a-Lago trip in front of Deutsche’s bond salesmen, only to attempt to reel the offer back in once the deal was completed:
According to a Deutsche Bank executive who heard the remarks, Mr. Trump gave a pep talk. “Fellas, I know this isn’t the easiest thing you’ve had to sell,” the executive recalled Mr. Trump saying. “But if you get this done, you’ll all be my guests at Mar-a-Lago,” his private club in Palm Beach, Fla.
The sales team managed to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bonds. Mr. Trump was pleased with the results when a Deutsche Bank executive called, according to a person who heard the conversation.
“Don’t forget what you promised our guys,” the executive reminded him.
Mr. Trump said he did not remember and that he doubted the salesmen actually expected to be taken to Mar-a-Lago.
“That’s all they’ve talked about the past week,” the executive replied.
Mr. Trump ultimately flew about 15 salesmen to Florida on his Boeing 727. They spent a weekend golfing with Mr. Trump, two participants said.