Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves Donald Trump taxes.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has taken possession of former president Donald Trump’s tax returns and a wealth of other financial data, according to an official. The records are deemed central to prosecutors sprawling criminal investigation into Trump’s business activities.
The transfer, which imvolves millions of pages of documents spanning eight years, occurred within hours of this week’s Supreme Court order rejecting Trump’s last bid to shield the information. In a statement, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office confirmed that Trump’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars, had complied with its subpoena after 18 months of delay while the former president challenged the matter in court.
Investigators are examining whether the values of certain properties in the Trump Organization’s portfolio were manipulated to gain tax advantages or favorable loans and insurance rates under false pretenses. They have asked specifically about the company’s methods of valuing its Manhattan assets for purposes of seeking loans, said two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their knowledge of the investigation.
A team of analysts who are working for District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., including experts from an outside forensics accounting firm, have been at the ready for months to dissect the records and scour for any evidence of criminal activity at the Trump Organization or by its executive employees. That group includes Trump, three of his adult children Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump and Allen Weisselberg, the company’s longtime chief financial officer.
It appears to be some overlap between Vance’s probe and a separate but similar civil inquiry by New York Attorney General Letitia James. James, a Democrat like Vance, is investigating Trump’s financial practices as well, telling the New York Times recently that her team is focused on whether Trump and his company “inflated their taxes for the purposes of gaining benefits” from insurance and mortgage companies “then deflated their very same assets for the purposes of evading tax liability in New York state.”
The New York City Tax Commission, which hears appeals from owners who feel the city has overvalued their property, also has received a subpoena from Vance’s office, according to city spokeswoman Laura Feyer. That subpoena was first reported by Reuters.In some cases, owners will contest their property’s valuation by providing data about the rental income it generates. Such moves are intended to demonstrate that the income is less than what the city believes. Feyer declined to say which Trump properties are identified in the subpoena.
Tax commission records show that, in recent years, Trump’s company has applied to reduce its tax valuations at Trump Tower, the Trump Palace and Trump World Tower condominium buildings.
Before he was elected president, 5rump worked with Ladder Capital Finance to refinance debts on his New York real estate. The mortgage lender provided Trump’s business with loans when almost no other would. According to city property records, the deals included a $100 million refinancing of Trump Tower, $160 million for the office building at 40 Wall Street and $15 million for the Trump Plaza condo building. Unlike Deutsche Bank, Trump’s primary lender, Ladder quickly sold the loans on securities markets. It’s unclear precisely why Vance is interested in the buildings. Jack Weisselberg, whose father is the Trump Organization’s longtime finance chief, is an executive at Ladder Capital. Multiple banking experts, speaking on the condition of anonymity to preserve industry relationships, said they did not believe Jack Weisselberg had the authority to issue loans without approval from people more senior to him.
Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, with whom he had a bitter falling out amid the federal investigation surrounding Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, has been interviewed by Vance’s team five times and another round of questioning is set for Friday, a person familiar with the matter said. Cohen, whose split with Trump coincided with Cohen’s 2018 conviction for tax evasion and campaign-finance violations, is likley guiding prosecutors through the Trump Organization’s inner workings.Mark Pomerantz, a former federal prosecutor recruited by Vance to assist with the investigation, conducted much of the questioning during Cohen’s most recent interview, the person familiar with the matter said.
Attempts to reach Jack Weisselberg were unsuccessful, and Ladder’s chief executive, Brian Harris, did not return a request for comment. The Trump Organization did not respond to requests to comment.