Today we focus on the big news in Trump World out of New York.
Exclusive Recording, Documents Bolster Trump Fraud Lawsuit
“New York state is suing Donald Trump and his business for engaging in financial fraud. Forbes has documents and a recording of Trump talking about 40 Wall Street, the first property cited in the attorney general’s press conference, that seem to back up her claims,” reports Dan Alexander:
For decades, Trump and his lieutenants lied to Forbes about his finances, as we have duly noted over the years in the annual Forbes 400 issue listing the richest Americans. In the 1982 inaugural edition, the real estate scion appeared alongside his father with a combined estimated net worth of $200 million—and even then insisted on a higher valuation: “Donald claims $500 million,” we noted. By 2000, the boasts were bolder: “In The Donald’s world, worth more than $5 billion—back on Earth, worth considerably less.” When he was running for office, we explained how his net-worth obsession “opens windows into Trump the entrepreneur, the candidate and the person.” Two Forbes journalists received subpoenas last year from the Manhattan district attorney and had to testify before a grand jury to confirm information in two articles detailing Trump’s shenanigans.
The former president’s lies have suddenly assumed greater significance. They now constitute potential evidence in multiple investigations—the civil case by the state attorney general and a criminal one by the Manhattan D.A.—with the potential to cost Trump millions of dollars and, perhaps, another chance at the White House. He has denied any wrongdoing, calling the attorney general’s investigation a “vindictive and self-serving fishing expedition.” Trump’s lawyers, meanwhile, have done their best to keep documents out of the hands of authorities. But Letitia James’ office has nonetheless amassed a trove of materials and filed hundreds of documents in court. The government still doesn’t have the full picture, though, in part because Donald Trump lives like a man trying to avoid a paper trail—no texts, no emails. Forbes, however, has records those prosecutors do not, including notes from interviews over the years and a 2015 audio recording that places Trump smack in the center of the alleged deceit.
Welcome To The Latest Issue Of Checks & Imbalances
This is the web edition of the Checks & Imbalances newsletter, sent to inboxes Tuesdays and Fridays. It’s free. To make sure you don’t miss an issue, subscribe.
Please support this work, if you can, by subscribing to Forbes. Any tips or suggestions? Email me at [email protected] or call/SMS/Signal 202.804.2744. You can follow me on Twitter at @z_everson. Thanks!
In Case You Missed It
- “Justice Thomas’ Wife Donated To An Election Skeptic”
- “How Social Media Platforms Can Help Stop The Spread Of The Big Lie”
- “How Congress Could End Tax Breaks For Gifts To Nonprofits With Political Agendas”
How Forbes Exposed Trump’s Lies About The Size Of His Penthouse
Seven years to the day after then-candidate Trump insisted to deputy editor Chase Peterson-Withorn that his penthouse was 33,000 square feet, he’s being sued for $250 million by the New York attorney general, in part for lying about its size. Here Peterson-Withorn recounts his reporting that revealed Trump’s lie:
It’s September 21, 2015 and Donald Trump is wheeling around his Trump Tower penthouse like a realtor at a showing. “35-foot ceilings!” he exclaims in the living room. “We have a fireplace,” he points out in the two-story dining room. “Can’t even get ‘em anymore.” He shows me the window where he claims he watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center. He directs me to a knockout view of Central Park. But more important to Trump than any one feature is the apartment’s size: 33,000 square feet–the entire top three floors of the skyscraper. He’s mentioned it at least 10 times over the past two hours as part of a marathon meeting stretching from his 26th-floor office to the Trump Tower gym and, finally, his gilded palace in the sky, which he says is much bigger and much more valuable than we’re estimating for our Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans.
Except none of it was true. I dug through property records, which showed Trump’s apartment was 10,996 square feet and only took up part of the floors. I spent hours sifting through every photo or video shot inside the penthouse, looking for extra rooms. I visited a grungy Manhattan records office, where I was told the apartment’s blueprints should be, but they were missing–perhaps taken by the Secret Service, I thought. I even had our stellar research librarian unearth a copy of Architectural Digest from the 1980s that featured an earlier version of Trump’s place, hoping to find evidence of the missing 22,004 square feet. No dice.
In N.Y. Attorney General’s Trump Complaint, Lots Of Fraud But Not A Lot Of Tax Avoidance
New York Attorney General Letitia James’ complaint against Trump “is mostly about Trump gaining advantages such as favorable loan terms and insurance provisions by purportedly misrepresenting his net worth,” reports Peter J Reilly:
The “acts of fraud and misrepresentation” cited in the complaint came in the form of an annual Statement of Financial Condition compiled by top 30 accounting firm Mazars, which has fired the Trump Organization as a client and stated that the Statements of Financial Condition for Donald Trump for the years ended June 30, 2011 through 2020 are unreliable. Mazars compiled rather than reviewed or audited the statements so responsibility for the purported misrepresentations rests with the people named in the complaint.
What the AG claims is that Trump and the others were fibbing to Mazars about is the valuation of property thereby overstating Trump’s net worth. That sort of thing will not create a tax understatement. Where the tax problem, which is what I write about, comes into play is with conservation easements. During his run for the presidency, Donald Trump’s campaign provided a 93-page list of 4,844 charitable contributions totaling $102 million. At the very top of the list was $63,825,000 in various conservation easements.
Watch: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Speaks To The Forbes Philanthropy Summit 2022
Special Master Demands Trump Prove Claims FBI Planted Evidence At Mar-A-Lago
“The special master appointed to review White House documents seized at Mar-a-Lago asked former President Donald Trump’s attorneys Thursday to detail any documents the Justice Department may have falsely claimed to have retrieved there, requiring Trump to back up claims he’s repeatedly made on social media that the FBI ‘planted’ evidence in a court of law,” reports Alison Durkee:
Dearie asked Trump’s attorneys to submit by September 30 a report of any issues they have with the DOJ’s detailed inventory of materials seized at Mar-A-Lago, including any “specific items” that the DOJ lists were taken from Mar-A-Lago but “that Plaintiff asserts were not seized from the Premises.”
That request comes after Trump has repeatedly claimed on social media and in interviews that the federal government planted documents at Mar-A-Lago that weren’t actually being stored there when the Florida estate was searched in August.
Trump has never offered any details of what he claims investigators planted during the search or made that allegation in court, and when asked Wednesday on Fox News whether security video from Mar-A-Lago would back up Trump’s claims, Trump told host Sean Hannity, “No, I don’t think so, they’re in a room.”
Forbes continues to update “Tracking Trump: A Rundown Of All The Lawsuits And Investigations Involving The Former President.”
In August, the campaign for a poll worker who falsely alleged ballot fraud and later became the GOP nominee for secretary of state in Michigan, paid $1,500 to one of Trump’s New Jersey clubs, according to state records. The expense was described as being for an “event venue rental.” (She reportedly held a fundraiser at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, N.J.) Trump endorsed the candidate, Kristina Karamo, in September 2021. Her campaign did not respond to an inquiry.
The campaign for Linda Lee Tarver, a Republican running for the board of education in Michigan, spent $960 at Mar-a-Lago in April. Shortly after incurring the expense, the candidate posted on Instagram that she’d been honored to speak with former President Trump about her campaign. Tarver did not respond to a request for comment.
- “The impeachment article that got away” (Politico)
- “Trump to unleash millions in the midterms in possible prelude to 2024” (Politico)
- “As Trump’s Legal Woes Mount, So Do Financial Pressures on Him” (The New York Times)
- “LIV Golf may need a mulligan on Capitol Hill” (Politico)
- “Government’s first witness talks Gulf nations’ ‘soft power’ aspirations in second day of Barrack trial” (Politico)
- “Former President Trump to host fundraiser with Dan Cox, the Republican nominee for Maryland governor” (The Baltimore Banner)
- “Trump’s Former Senior Advisor [Jared Kushner] Awarded by Hungarian Foreign Minister” (Hungary Today)
- “Trump’s PAC, which raises money by promising donors they’re defending the former president’s legacy, is still paying Melania Trump’s fashion designer, most recently $18,000 last month for ‘strategy consulting’” (Twitter/Isaac Stanley-Becker of the Washington Post)
- “GOP Calls Warnock’s Parsonage Benefit A Tax Dodge. It Used To Defend It.” (Forbes)
- “The House may finally vote—next week—on legislation to ban members of Congress from trading stocks” (Insider)
- “Herschel Walker’s Company Said It Donated Profits, but Evidence Is Scant” (The New York Times)
- “Alarm as Koch bankrolls dozens of election denier candidates” (The Guardian)
- “Former senior Obama advisor guides lobbying and policy strategy of London cryptocurrency firm” (CNBC)
- “Company hired to arrange DeSantis’ migrant flights is tied to high-level state official” (The Miami Herald)
- “Political ad spending is breaking records: Here’s where the money’s going in critical Senate races” (MarketWatch)
- “GOP megadonor Peter Thiel to host fundraiser for Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters” (CNBC)
- “Midterm elections roundup: GOP group cuts ads in Arizona Senate race” (NBC News)
- “Dr. Oz’s Fundraising Emails Spell Panic in Pennsylvania” (The Daily Beast)
- “Stefanik Says She’s Confident a Red Wave Is Coming to the House” (The New York Times)
- “House GOP cuts loose candidate who misled about military service” (Politico)
- “GOP’s crime cudgel” (Axios)
- “Saudi lobbyist oversees millions in dark money GOP campaign donations” (Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft)
- “CPAC’s Matt Schlapp sent a letter to House Republicans warning his organization won’t endorse any candidate for a leadership race unless they vow to reject meetings with ‘woke’ corporations.” (Twitter/Alex Salvi of Newsmax)
- “Full Sam Bankman-Fried: ‘People aren’t taking me at my word’” (NBC News)
- “A truly wild moment yesterday from the House Financial Services Committee, where they laugh about the revolving door from Congress to the banks.” (Twitter/Unusual Whales)
Rainmaker, a little faith for hire
Rainmaker, the house is on fire
Rainmaker, take evеrything you have
Sometimes folks need to bеlieve in something so bad, so bad, so bad
They’ll hire a rainmaker
— Bruce Springsteen, “Rainmaker”