She Has The Receipts…

Oh, snap ! Excuse my  schadenfreude….

Those of us who follow the news have been hearing  about New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation of the Trump Organization for what seems like a century. Yesterday, we finally got to see the results of that methodical investigation–and they were  devastating.

As the saying goes, she brought the receipts.

What made the announcement of James’ suit even more satisfying was the fact that it followed by just a few hours the smackdown of Judge Cannon’s widely derided decision by the Court of Appeals. (It is worth noting that two of the judges on that three-judge panel were Trump appointees.) As Robert Hubbell wrote in his newsletter, “It is difficult to convey the extraordinary rebuke delivered by the 11th Circuit to Judge Cannon.”

Hubbell also quoted from Letitia James’ verbal presentation of her 225 page complaint at the press conference.

For too long, powerful, wealthy people in this country have operated as if the rules do not apply to them. Donald Trump stands out as among the most egregious examples of this misconduct. With the help of his children and senior executives at the Trump Organization, Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and cheat the system. . . . Mr. Trump thought he could get away with the art of the steal, but today, that conduct ends. There are not two sets of laws for people in this country; we must hold former presidents to the same standards as everyday Americans. I will continue to ensure that no one is able to evade the law, because no one is above it.

In all my years of practicing law, I never saw a 225 page complaint; James has used those pages to enumerate in great detail an absolutely breathtaking amount of fraud, employed consistently over many years.  Those of you who want to read the entire document can do so here.

Among the “inaccuracies” Trump supplied to banks, taxing agencies and insurance companies were the following:

  • Trump’s apartment in NY was approximately 10,000 square feet. That’s really big– but of course, not as big as Trump’s ego.  In his financial statements (intended to be relied upon by lenders) he claimed it was 30,000 square feet.  That isn’t an inadvertent measurement error.
  • Trump purchased undeveloped land in Scotland for $12 million dollars.  Eight years later, he claimed it was worth $435 million. (A contemporaneous appraisal found that–if the land was developed–it would be worth $21 million.
  • Then there was the golf course Trump purchased on the  west coast near Los Angeles. He granted a conservation easement to the state, and  an appraisal valued the golf course at $18 million. When Trump claimed a tax deduction for the grant of easement, he claimed the property was worth $25 million–a value that reduced his taxes to the IRS by millions of dollars.
  • 40 Wall Street, a downtown building owned by the Trump Organization, was valued at $200 million on a tax filing in 2010. In the very next year, Trump valued it at an astronomical $524 million.

There is much, much more, and the sheer chutzpah is amazing. James’ office lacks the authority to bring criminal charges, so her case is civil, but she announced that she has made criminal referrals to both the U.S. Attorney for New York and the IRS.

Although James’ case is civil, it’s worth noting that she is seeking what you might call a “corporate death penalty” for the Trump Organization. Among the various remedies she’s seeking are cancellation of corporate certificates (without which businesses can’t operate), the appointment of an independent monitor, an order barring Trump and the Trump Organization from doing loan, real estate and other transactions relating to New York for five years, and permanently barring Trump, three of his adult children (I bet Tiffany is grateful for those years of cold shouldering) from serving as officers or directors of any New York businesses.

And since this is a civil suit, James is free to point to the hundreds of times Donald  and his son Eric refused to answer questions and  took refuge behind the Fifth Amendment. (In a criminal proceeding, prosecutors cannot draw inferences from the fact that a defendant claimed the Fifth; in civil suits, however, the rule is different.)

Vanity Fair ran an article under the headline: “How Screwed Are Donald Trump and his Adult Children?”I think the answer is: royally.  And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving family of grifters.

Pass the popcorn.

 

29 thoughts on “She Has The Receipts…

  1. Ms. James may be boasting about charging DT for crimes, but we’ve witnessed many books thrown at him, only to fall to the side without injury.

    I cannot understand why the IRS hasn’t nailed him. Seeing that New York is a “liberal city” and Ms. James has dark skin will only add to the right-wing white supremacist drama.

    “More woke liberals trying to bring down our godly man.”

    An orange jumpsuit would be great, but having him vanish from the news cycle would be divine!

  2. While AG James’ actions make me more than pleased, I am bothered by the fact that none of what she uncovered is news. We have known Donald Trump has been grossly inflating and deflating his assets for decades depending on what he wanted the valuation for. And it’s not just in the area of his assets. Everyone knew Donald Trump was a con artist, engaging in fraud, allegedly. It’s not just limited to his business. Look, for example, how he lies to his supporters to get their money. Yet no one did anything…until now.

    I guess what got Trump in trouble is that instead of inflating/deflating his assets by 20 or 30% like apparently everyone in the industry doe, he did so by 1000% or more, even changing the square footage of his properties to help with the altered valuation.

    Allowing Trump to operate above the law for so long, has made the situation so much worse.

  3. Maybe his tax records will finally be made public.
    Getting closer to the perp walk we all need to see.

  4. When will his willfully ignorant supporters realize that he has been stealing from them all along? When will they turn against him at his rallies?

  5. Hey Ogden; we have all known this was going on for decades, the claims by defrauded businesses against Trump came piecemeal through those years. Most ended in Trump’s favor with businesses on the losing end; a few got 30 cents on the dollar of what they were owed. This is the first actual court case of this magnitude which has been handed to “The Donald” his former anchor baby offspring and his business organizations by a higher court. Actions speak louder than words! As an active Republican, Trump’s actions should have “bothered” you long ago; along with the fact that, like his sex abuse cases, no one succeeded in actually bringing charges and the receipts to any higher court in the land. Your final sentence today appears that you just became aware of the difference between High Crimes and Misdemeanors; this doesn’t bother me because it is expected of all Republicans today. I am painting you with the same brush as McConnell, Giuliani, Flynn, Jordan, Graham and Gohmert and others.

    The fact that this remains a Civil case does bother me. When does the scamming amount in mega millions cross the line from Civil to Criminal? Or does it? Too bad that those of us who wasted our money ordering the books which came out almost monthly during his administration, Misdemeanors at best, can’t file for recompense. I had to repeatedly stop reading the latest Trump expose to watch the current worse criminal and/or foolish actions and words by the man and his cronies. It continues today, unabated. It doesn’t appear he will be “thinking” his way out of these recent cases and is he charging his cadre of lawyers to stay at Mar-A-Lago to be at his beck and call?

  6. There is something sick yet basic about a society that needs an anti-hero… a person who can thumb his nose at the rules and get away with it. That kind of persona has great appeal to those who believe they have been oppressed by those same rules. Thus Trump. He has been at his chosen role in society since he first grabbed the attention of the New York press. As Paul Ogden put it, “Everyone knew Donald Trump was a con artist…” Yet he was promoted and used by people who knew better but saw a way to make money off his grift too.

  7. I would love to believe that “this is finally it”, they are finally going to nail him. It reminds me of how Al Capone got away with murder (literally) for years but what they were finally able to convict him of was tax evasion.

    I’d like to believe it, but I don’t. Maybe I’m too cynical, but we’ve watched the Cheeto in Chief sail through everything thrown at him with nary a scratch. I’m afraid this too will make no difference and will only serve to encourage his presidential run in 2020. He’s got the MAGA millions fired up about how he’s being treated by the liberal elite. So much so that they will fight for him to the bitter end. The bitter end of our democracy.

  8. The New York AG’s filing has led to an announcement by the Manhattan DA that his investigation is ongoing. Add to that the multiple investigations by DOJ and we have a trifecta of players in the rush to see 45 in a jumpsuit that matches his complexion.

    Until he became the most dangerous President in American history, he was mostly an annoyance and a waste of time, money, and effort. Yes, he cheated on his taxes. Yes, he overvalued his properties to get bank loans. If the banks didn’t recognize that, maybe that’s on them. The banks also recognized that he would default on the loan and declare bankruptcy on the LLC that had taken that loan out, after fraudulently transferring assets to some of his other companies. IMHO some of those banks should be under investigation, as well. When the man who would be king moved into the glass house of the Presidency, that changed.

    As much as I would love to see him disappear from all media, I fear the legacy he is leaving behind in equal measure, but, as I’ve noted before, that might just be because I live in Florida, where we have the smarter, more savvy version of 45 as our governor.

  9. Nancy,

    Great question, but Trump’s acolytes are not mentally or morally equipped to admit an error regrading their dear cult leader. Sad as it is, the weakest souls among us flock to creatures like Trump; it reflects their own inadequacies.

  10. Whenever I see stuff like this about the rich “maybe” getting caught, but unlikely to go to jail, I think of some poor person who shoplifted food and spent time behind bars without years of appeals and maneuvering.

    We seem to have “mores” and “rules” and “standards”, but they don’t apply to the rich and powerful who just duck…

  11. I anticipate a negotiated settlement. Allows the Don to say he’s never been proven guilty, hurts his kids more than him (he now has a govt pension, housing allowance, Secret Service security for the rest of his life), gives him an out from running again and being a two-time loser, does nothing to his business opportunities elsewhere, and might keep us from ever seeing his tax returns. We may have witnessed the perfect con artist.

  12. Nothing said by Ms. James was news. It was the fact that it was said in the words of the law that has documented it completely that was the news. The same is true of the Jan 6 committee. The same of the Georgia Attorney General and Merrick Garland.

    Donald, meet people who cannot be bought or intimidated or outsmarted by hired guns or pretend power. It’s a good thing that you didn’t shoot that person on Fifth Ave.

  13. Either his son in law or MBS could pop for, say, three-quarters of billion and he might be able to negotiate his way out of this civil debt, and if the IRS remains asleep and Georgia falters, he could walk. However, if the IRS, Bragg and Georgia awaken to his criminal tax and electoral fraud(s) he could pull an Al Capone at both state and federal levels.

    With dwindling crowds at his speeches designed to grafify his insatiable need for attention and his endorsement(s) of Republican politicians for office unnecessary to political success as his criminal record unfolds he is in deep trouble, and not just here in River City.

    He should spend some time in state prisons (New York and/or Georgia), and if he lives long enough, Leavenworth, since we cannot allow such conduct by any president to go unpunished and become a standard incorporated into our system of stare decisis for future presidents to emulate. Future generations are depending upon us to mete out justice to criminals in high office as well as those who are not in accord with our oft-stated axiom that “No one is above the law,” so let’s not fail them – or ourselves.

  14. I agree with Lester that Bill Bailey hits it right on the nose. Just want to add it will allow him to be the martyr. Which regrettably means he will not be out of the news cycle until MAGA/Q-anon are no more.

  15. Alphons – like you add on the likely result. And…not that need more motivation…the rich/powerful/evil will again see that they are pure Teflon regarding laws/standards/ethics: “What gets “measured” gets done.” Lots of research on crime that shows that the real deterrent is not punishment, it is the likelihood of getting caught and charged. Dream on of The Duck in an orange suit (would clash with his hair) 🙂 🙂

  16. A “negotiated settlement” is always possible. Most prosecutors would settle for “half-a-loaf” in order to assure a (more or less) just outcome. As most trial lawyers would tell you, even if you think you have a slam dunk case, one can never be quite sure what jurors will or won’t do. That’s probably even more the case since it’s Trump, who is the new “Teflon Don.”
    Having said that, Trump’s attorneys (reportedly) went to James with offers to settle the case before she filed the case. It didn’t happen. If James does eventually agree to settle, I’m betting she is going to demand a big piece of Trump’s flesh in exchange.

  17. David and all,

    Poor folks don’t get “negotiated settlements. They have volunteer lawyers who try to help get a “less worse” sentence; that’s about it. “Equal justice under the law”? Hah/ sniffle.

  18. Those “inaccuracies” are so ludicrous that they could be an SNL skit featuring Donald Trump as “The Liar Guy” dreaming up valuations for his properties and gleefully murmuring, “Ye-ah, that’s the ticket,” while he pencils in the figures.

    Frankly, the figures are so outrageous that anyone who accepted them as fact without independent appraisal is complicitous. We common earthlings would never have been allowed to get away with it.

  19. When I was in the practice a common saying then was that “A bad settlement is better than a good lawsuit.” I think that might apply in some civil suits but is inapplicable to the Trump situation since we are talking multiple civil and criminal suits in which he is clearly set to lose more than one before “a jury of his peers.” We have the receipts in both New York per that state’s massive complaint and I have personally heard all I need to know to charge him under Georgia law for electoral fraud, and with such information plus the Select Committee’s findings to be passed on to the DOJ and the obvious frauds represented by his returns (under oath) to the IRS I see no need to give any quarter to this lifelong fraud and obstructionist. None.

  20. Yes, we knew way back in the ’80s. Yes, the Republicans knew when they nominated and voted him into office. Yes, the banks did not do their due diligence until they got bribed or burned by his financial blackmail. Yes, we know that he continues to commit fraud at the very least.
    Yet, there is not a peep of resistance from his cult mob, nor, notably, the Republican National apparatus who are dumping millions into electoral races at all levels throughout the country, many for people who actually participated in the January 6 insurrection or who continue to support the big lie of the stolen election.
    I fear that the mid-term elections will be chaotic, with too few poll workers, claims of fraud whenever a Republican candidate loses, recounts lasting not just days but weeks, judicial malfeasance by Trump appointees like Cannon, frivolous lawsuits drowning state/federal courts regardless of no evidence (just to disrupt and delay), anything that will support the cult claims of theft and justification for more violence, not just in D.C. but everywhere that the “militias” has the numbers and financial backing to cause riots. Those riots will be blamed on the “commies” with cheering from the Senate and fascist controlled media.
    I hope I am wrong, but all the signs are there, including his call to arms in Ohio for the “storm” to come. It is sedition, but no one in authority seems to have the guts to call it what it so clearly is.

  21. Lester,
    Off topic a bit.
    Spent 35 years as a Public Defender, both trying and appealing cases and as a supervisor. Been retired for a good while now, but I doubt that much has changed.

    As many clients would say to me: “I want a real lawyer! Not a public defender!” Unfortunately, in many places the client’s concerns about the level of representation they would get weren’t entirely misplaced.

    Most, if not all prosecutors in our criminal system routinely overcharge. It gives them tremendous leverage and advantage in getting guilty pleas when the defendant weighs betting her/his freedom of beating the charges carrying the most time and in most jurisdictions — judges are allowed to “stack” the convictions (i.e., run them consecutively; hence many of the truly ridiculously long sentences imposed in this Country) if he went to trial versus knowing for certain what they will have to do. I’m certainly not defending the fairness of the system, but there are many dedicated PD’s and pro bono lawyers out there who work very hard and do a great job given what they are up against.

  22. David F – I deeply apologize if I seemed to be saying anything bad about public defenders. They are true heroes. I only brought up their examples to call out the ongoing cruel injustice of nothing like “equality under the law”.

  23. One thing I like is AG James’ returning to the concept of corporations as legal entities (or fictions) that exist on the sufferance of the state. Too many corporations believe the opposite is true.

    I would like to believe that like a game of Jenga, with each court case pulling out a piece, that eventually the whole thing will finally come down on Trump. I will wait for that, but I am not holding my breath. I do agree that any deal James makes with Trump will be much worse for him than he would have gotten in the past.

    As for his devoted followers, like the followers of those who predict a precise date for the apocalypse – when it doesn’t happen, they make excuses and believe more strongly. The MAGA crowd will be with him forever.

  24. You said it, Bill Bailey. We’ve suspected and No Nonsense Letitia James is all over them, still….

  25. I was a restaurant in Fishers IN (an Indianapolis north suburb) and the man at the next table was explaining loudly to his mother in law, how “Soros and the Global Cabal had to remove Trump from office because he was so close to nearly destroying the liberals”. He went on with what seems like a little projection: “The courts are being packed with liberals making political decisions.”

    There is the reality that “Trump declassified those documents in his mind”, and the reality that nobody would testify under oath anything was declassified.

    I am pretty sure that the law is quickly catching up to Trump, but I am also sure any statement (lie) he makes in public will paint a different picture. This could be a rough time period for Trump and those people that occupy his version of right wing reality.

    I just saw that a story in the NY Times: A campaign watchdog group has filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the campaign arm of Senate Republicans, accusing the group of breaking federal law by using money that is supposed to be earmarked for legal expenses on campaign ads instead. So legal troubles may not be confined to only Trump.

  26. This AG did the homework to assemble and organize the case. Kudos to her. It must be particularly upsetting to Trump that the AG is a black woman. This reminds of the Trump University scam which closed the not-university and saddled Trump with a sizeable fine. One can foresee similar outcomes here. This AG doesn’t seem inclined to settle unless she extracts TONS of flesh. Even then, the referrals may cost him a lot more.

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