The New York Attorney General’s office subpoenas two banks over their financing of four major Trump Organization projects and a failed effort to buy the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.
One of the banks, Deutsche Bank, is already the subject of two congressional investigations and was examined last year by New York banking regulators, who took no action. The German bank, which gave Trump $300 million, has been embroiled in a scandal over money laundering by Russian organized crime, processing at least $20 billion in money of “criminal origin” from 2010 to 2014.
The new inquiry in New York was prompted by the Congressional testimony of Michael Cohen, Trump’s long-time lawyer and fixer, last month. Cohen said Trump inflated his assets in financial statements, while diminishing his assets in tax and insurance declarations. Supporting the claims, he provided copies of statements that he said were submitted to Deutsche Bank.
The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James is pursuing a civil investigation, not a criminal one, at that point. The Attorney General can investigate fraud and fine or even dissolve a business found guilty of repeated illegal activity.
The request to Deutsche Bank is seeking loan applications, mortgages, lines of credit and other financing transactions. They are connected to the Trump International Hotel in Washington; the Trump National Doral outside Miami, Florida; and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.
Deutsche Bank lent Trump more than $100 million in 2012 for the Doral golf resort and $170 million in 2015 for the Washington hotel, in the Old Post Office Building.
Trump gave Deutsche Bank bare-bones personal financial statements in 2014 when he sought the Buffalo Bills franchise. The effort ended when the team was sold to a rival bidder for $1.4 billion.
The New Jersey-based Investors Bank was subpoenaed for records relating to Trump Park Avenue in New York City.
Trump has refused to disclose his tax and financial records during his candidacy and his stay in the White House. He said that any investigation of his businesses and his family are a “red line” that cannot be crossed, including by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia inquiry.
Trump has raged against the New York investigations. He has called then-Attorney General Attorney General Eric Schneiderman a “sleazebag” and “Shady Eric” and James as “yet another AG…[who] openly campaigned on a GET TRUMP agenda”.
But the inquiries have been effective. They pushed Trump University into closure and a $25 million settlement over deceptive practices, and the dissolution of the Trump Foundation in December as a judge found a “shocking pattern of illegality”.
Trump snapped on Twitter on Tuesday:
New York State and its Governor, Andrew Cuomo, are now proud members of the group of PRESIDENTIAL HARASSERS. No wonder people are fleeing the State in record numbers. The Witch Hunt continues!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2019
After the Republican National Committee provided cover by asserting that Attorney General James had called Trump an “illegitimate President”, Trump repeated, “All part of the Witch Hunt Hoax. Started by little Eric Schneiderman & Cuomo. So many leaving New York!”