On Monday, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced that it was investigating “public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.” This was a concerning development for a president who has settled a lawsuit over what a federal judge called a “fraudulent university” and who was accused by the New York attorney general of running a charity with a “shocking pattern of illegality.”
With this new development, New York’s Jonathan Chait notes that Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance Jr. is “trying to obtain financial records that could confirm publicly reported crimes,” of which “there are potentially a lot”:
A New York Times investigation two years ago found a trail of phony records used in what the newspaper described as clear fraud. Trump has reportedly collected phony hurricane damages. ProPublica has uncovered massive discrepancies between the figures Trump has given to lenders and the government, portraying himself as rich to the banks and poor to the government, thus defrauding either one or both.
On Wednesday, the Times reported another development that should give the president’s legal team pause: The Manhattan DA’s Office has subpoenaed Trump’s lender, Deutsche Bank, which the paper describes as “a sign that their criminal investigation into Mr. Trump’s business practices is more wide-ranging than previously known.” From previous subpoenas, it is understood that Vance’s office is investigating hush payments Trump made in 2016 to women he allegedly had affairs with, to determine if the then-candidate violated New York State law. Deutsche Bank has reportedly complied with the subpoena issued last year, and has handed over financial records and other statements Trump provided to the bank when applying for loans.
Over their long and bumpy relationship, Deutsche has lent Trump and his organization over $2 billion — despite the president’s reported efforts to inflate his wealth when applying for loans, as well as reported concerns from the banks’s internal investigators that Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner may have been laundering money via their international accounts. (The Trump Organization still has hundreds of millions in outstanding loans with the German bank.)
Other prosecutors have filed to see Trump’s records with the bank. Both New York attorney general Letitia James and the investigation led by Robert Mueller sought access to the Trump-Deutsche papers, though James’s effort is a civil investigation, and the special counsel limited his scope to criminal charges already being considered by the Department of Justice.
On the same day last month that the Supreme Court kicked down a lawsuit in which congressional investigators sought to gain the president’s financial records with his accounting firm, the Court ruled that Cy Vance did have the authority to subpoena eight years of the president’s tax records as part of a grand jury inquiry. It is unlikely they would be released prior to the November election.