Tag: letitia james
Ditching Lawyers (And Brothers), Ivanka Hires New Counsel In Fraud Trial

Ditching Lawyers (And Brothers), Ivanka Hires New Counsel In Fraud Trial

Ivanka Trump has parted ways with her family’s legal counsel in the New York civil fraud lawsuit and hired lawyers to defend her, and her alone, distancing herself from her father and brothers in the case.

The move came after the judge overseeing the case rejected Ivanka’s independent attempt to dismiss the accusations against her — and only her.

The lawsuit was brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James against the Trump Organization and its executives — including former President Donald Trump and his three adult children, Ivanka, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump — last September, alleging years of financial fraud.

James accused Trump of conspiring with his children and Trump Organization executives for years to flagrantly distort property and asset valuations to deceive lenders, insurance brokers, and tax authorities to obtain better loans, insurance coverage, and tax benefits.

The lawsuit sought to recover $250 million in financial benefits obtained through fraud, bar the Trumps from serving as executives at any New York company, and bar Trump and the Trump Organization from any New York real estate acquisitions or loans issued by New York-registered lender for five years.

Court documents submitted a week after James filed the lawsuit showed that the Trump children had hired Clifford Robert and Michael Farina as legal counsel. Ivanka also independently engaged the services of two Washington, DC-based lawyers — Reid Figel and Michael Kellogg — to represent her alongside Robert and Farina.

In early March, Figel urged the judge via letter to delay the trial to give just Ivanka time to prepare a defense stating that “other individuals” — suggestively, her father and brothers — had prepared the fraudulent financial statements cited in James’ lawsuit.

James’ complaint “does not contain a single allegation that Ms. Trump directly or indirectly created, prepared, reviewed, or certified any of her father's financial statements,” Figel wrote.

He added: “The complaint affirmatively alleges that other individuals were responsible for those tasks.”

However, at least one of James’ allegations pertains to a property that Ivanka had lived in, reports the UK’s Daily Mail.

The request was denied.

According to Forbes, the Trump children’s legal divorce occurred last week. Figel and Kellogg withdrew from the case on Tuesday.

Three days later, Bennet Moskowitz, who represented Jeffrey Epstein, informed the court he was replacing Robert and Farina as Ivanka’s sole legal counsel. Forbes stated in its report that Robert and Farina still represent Trump Jr. and Eric.

While Ivanka's decision to legally distance herself from her family in such a high-stakes legal battle isn’t unheard of, the timing of her move is, former elected state attorney Michael McAuliffe told Newsweek.

"The timing is somewhat unusual as discovery is ending, so the evidence in the case is by now largely identified and developed," McAuliffe told the paper.

“Ivanka Trump [could be] looking ahead to the trial in the fall and wants a separate advocate who is free to point out the disparity in the evidence against the various defendants. A lawyer representing all or several of the defendants can't realistically or effectively make that argument,” he added.

Blaming Eric and Don for the expansive financial fraud alleged by James could put Ivanka’s defense at odds with her brothers’, Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor, told Newsweek.

The lawsuit’s ongoing discovery process is set to end on April 30, per Forbes. The trial, scheduled for 2nd October, will commence on time “come hell or high water,” the judge has since said.

Ivanka Trump Tried To Dodge Her Court-Appointed Financial Monitor

Ivanka Trump Tried To Dodge Her Court-Appointed Financial Monitor

Ivanka Trump, daughter and ex-aide of former President Trump, tried and failed to keep her finances — and hers only — away from the prying eyes of a court-appointed financial monitor tasked with scrutinizing the Trump Organization’s transactions and those of entities connected to it, The Daily Beast reported Monday, citing anonymous sources.

According to the Beast, Ivanka Trump’s attorneys sent private letters to Justice Arthur Engoron, the New York state judge who ordered the financial supervision in the state’s ongoing lawsuit against the Trump company, asking to be exempt from the monitor’s scrutiny, a step her brothers, Don. Jr. and Eric, didn’t take.

Engoron summarily ignored Ivanka’s private plea and — in a bold ruling on Thursday — said the Trump Organization had just two weeks to provide "a full and accurate description of the corporate structure” to the monitor, retired judge Barbara Jones, giving her a window into the company’s “financial disclosures to any persons or entities."

The Trump family must also provide the judge a 30-day advance notice before moving any assets, Engoron ruled, citing the audacious founding of a Trump Organization II in Delaware, “the shell company capital of the country,” according to the Beast.

New York Attorney General Letitia James requested a monitor to supervise the Trump family company’s finances until her civil suit against the organization — the culmination of her three-year-long investigation into its business practices — goes to trial.

In her over 200-page-long filing, James’ office alleged widespread fraud by Trump, his company, and the offspring he made its executives — participants in an over ten-year-long effort to bloat the former president’s finances to get favorable loan agreements.

Seeking $250 million in penalties from the Trump Organization, in a motion filed last month, James asked for the company to be barred from offloading its assets ashore and conducting any kind of “significant fraudulent and illegal business,” ensuring that “funds are available to satisfy any disgorgement award.”

Ivanka Trump — who has sought to distance herself from her father’s political operations, most recently his announcement of a 2024 presidential bid— is a defendant in James’ suit even though her name hasn’t come up in recent court hearings, the Beast noted.

“I love my father very much. This time around, I am choosing to prioritize my young children and the private life we are creating as a family,” Ivanka told Fox News, excusing her absence from her father’s announcement. “I do not plan to be involved in politics.”

In the Trump family’s attempt to stave off Engoron’s ruling via appeal filing, Ivanka’s lawyers made a personal argument to get her off the hook, saying that she had not been involved with the company for over five years.

“Ms. Trump submits this separate affirmation to set forth with specificity the reasons why the trial court erred in including Ms. Trump in the Order in her individual capacity… there was no legal or factual basis to issue the Order against Ms. Trump,” her lawyers argued.

“Ms. Trump has had no involvement for more than five years… Ms. Trump has had no role as an officer, director, or employee of the Trump Organization or any of its affiliates since at least January 2017… NY AG never intended to impose an injunction against Ms. Trump,” the attorneys added.

In her tenure as a White House adviser, Ivanka Trump raised myriad ethics red flags, and as a Trump Organization executive before that, she was — as described by James in a court filing for Ivanka’s refusal to testify in January — a "key player in many of the [Trump company’s] transactions."

Beyond Unhinged: How Trump Confessed To Bank Fraud On 'Hannity'

Beyond Unhinged: How Trump Confessed To Bank Fraud On 'Hannity'

With just about anything attached in any way to Donald Trump, you don’t even know where to start. But his Wednesday night interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News is in a class of exactly one. I looked for a transcript online, so I could quote from the interview, but there isn’t one. In fact, it’s hard to find the whole thing from beginning to end, because it’s such a target-rich environment. Nearly all the sources featuring the interview just run their favorite clips.

Where do you start? We’ve all heard about Trump’s out-of-the-blue speculation that the FBI searched Mar a Lago because they were looking for Hillary Clinton’s emails. We’ve heard his explanation of the process of declassification of secret documents just by “thinking about it.” But receiving far less coverage has been his rant against New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed a 222-page lawsuit on Wednesday against Trump, his three adult children, and the Trump Organization for fraud, lying on official documents, and a whole host of other charges.

So, let’s start right there. Trump complains that James has been out to get him for years. “Her whole campaign was based on this, and then she came after us,” Trump began, in response to yet another gelatinous question from lapdog Hannity. “We’ve been going over this for years, and I actually thought because our values are really high, the company is great, like places like this [turns to indicate the gold-leaf ornamentation on the wall behind him] so many other places that I have like this, frankly, I mean, just to do among the finest places in the world, I actually thought that they would never bring a case, and she brought it. And the reason I thought she didn’t have a case, I was of the impression she wanted to settle, but I had a problem because how do you pay something even it’s a small amount of money if you’re not guilty?”

It was on September 15 that Trump’s lawyers sat down with the Office of the New York Attorney General and tried to settle the case before it was filed. Exactly one week later, Trump acts all surprised that this terrible thing has happened to him.

As he sat there talking to Hannity amidst the splendor that is Mar a Lago, Trump was aware that his company is set to go to trial next month on criminal tax fraud in Manhattan, “a case that could expose the company to steep financial penalties if it is convicted,” the New York Times reported.

But let’s go back to the interview, as Hannity surprises us with a question that verges on a modicum of specificity even as it seeks to set Trump up to deny a primary aspect of the case against him, that he inflated the value of his properties in order to qualify for hundreds of millions in loans, $300 million from Deutsche Bank alone: “Did you ever in your life fill out a loan application while in the Trump organization?” Hannity pleads.

“Well, you know, we make loans, but I have very little debt,” Trump lies with an approximation of a straight face. And yet he persists. Hannity somehow manages to get out, “Here’s what I want to tell you,” before being interrupted by Trump with this: “They’ve demeaned me for years with this stuff, and now they find out I have very little debt.”

Hannity then proceeds to help Trump craft a defense: “I was told that in your financial statements, when you make a loan application, and you can confirm if you know this or do not know this, do you put in a caveat that actually says, these are all valuations because I don’t know a lending institution, a financial institution, that would lend money to anybody, and just go by the borrower’s estimation of valuation of a particular property. So if you’re buying a $100 million property and you’re putting X, Y, and Z up for leverage, you estimate its value at this, and they estimate it as this, don’t they have a fiduciary before they give you that amount of money, so that they determine what the value is?”

Trump relaxes. He’s in his element. He has an obsequious pretender at his feet who doesn’t know anything even close to what he knows about the world of big finance and billionaire-ness: “First of all, these are banks that have the best law firms in the world, the biggest and best and most powerful…they do their own work, they don’t rely on us. But what we do is, we have a disclaimer and we put this as my people put it together, I would look at it, and it looked fine, but it’s not overly important. What’s important is the property. I have the best property. We have a disclaimer, Sean, right on the front, and it basically says, you know, get your own people, you’re at your own risk, this was done by management, it wasn’t done by us, it was done by management, so don’t rely on the statement that you’re getting. And by the way, it goes on for like a page and a half, it’s a very big disclaimer, it’s a very powerful disclaimer.”

This is Trump acting out what he has told the “best law firms in the world, the biggest and best and most powerful,” basically telling them how to do their jobs, because, you know, I’m Trump and I know all about this stuff.

Hannity presses on, agreeing with Trump that the lenders have their own valuations, “they’ve got their own bosses and shareholders they have to answer to,” because it’s not your fault, it’s the fault of these biggest, bestest, most powerful people you’re dealing with.

Leaning forward, again indicating the gilded magnificence of the room at Mar a Lago, Trump confidently says, “So they would look at a property like this, I don’t even have a mortgage on this property, I don’t have a mortgage on most of my properties,” says the man who has signed away practically everything he owns to Deutsche Bank to get the money he’s living on.

“You know, I used to read where he’s overextended, he has so much money he borrowed, and I’m saying, what are they talking about? But actually, the one good thing is that people see what a great company I built. I built a great company. A powerful company. A company that’s very lowly-leveraged, with among the best assets anywhere in the world, and you look at this asset, and she has this down to $75 million dollars, I can tell you, it’s many times that number. She said, oohh, he evaluated it at 75 or whatever it is, and she valued it at 75, or whatever it is, this is Letitia James, no, but if I were going, I don’t even have a mortgage on this property, but if I was going to put a mortgage on this property, the institutions are going to be coming over, they’re going to be going through comparable properties all over Palm Beach or wherever it is, Miami, we have them all over, we have tremendous properties…”

Are you following this? This is Mar-a-Lago he’s talking about. Trump has been charged in the New York lawsuit with overvaluing his properties to use them as collateral for loans. Letitia James, who did her due diligence and looked up all the comparable properties in Palm Beach, determined that Mar-a-Lago was worth $75 million. The New York attorney general discovered in Trump’s financials that that he valued it at $739 million in order to qualify for loans.

What Trump does, in his roundabout, incoherent interview with Hannity, is take a shovel in hand and dig a big hole and jump into it wearing his blue suit and red tie and black lace-up shoes, when says Letitia James doesn’t have a case against him for overvaluing his properties on loan applications, but look at me! I’m right here on national television and I’m providing all the proof you need that I overstated the value of my properties, in this case, Mar-a-Lago, which isn’t worth what non-billionaire Letitia James said it was worth, but “many times that number.”

These public statements by Trump, made on the same day he was sued in New York State, are all admissible in James’ lawsuit against him. She says he overvalued his properties. Trump’s defense is, no I didn’t, and yet here he is admitting that’s exactly what he did, and he got away with it because the banks with all the best and biggest and most powerful law firms went along with it and loaned him money, so it’s all their fault, not his. And yet it’s Donald Trump’s name on those loan applications Hannity asked him if he filled out, and it’s his name on those valuations, and whether the banks went along with his numbers and loaned him money or not, he attested that what he was putting on those financial documents was true.

That, my friends, is called bank fraud, live on the Sean Hannity show on Fox News for everyone, including Letitia James, to see. And that’s why we need a new word for “unhinged.”

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Reprinted with permission from Lucian Truscott Newsletter

Massive Civil Fraud Lawsuit Hits Trump’s Inflated Real Estate Empire

Massive Civil Fraud Lawsuit Hits Trump’s Inflated Real Estate Empire

New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a $250 million civil lawsuit against Donald J. Trump, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr., as well as two Trump executives, Allan Weisselberg and Jeff McConney, for “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentations,” and seeks to bar any of the Trumps from operating a company in the state of New York ever, or from engaging in any commercial real estate transactions in the state for five years.

“I’m announcing that today we’re filing a lawsuit against Donald Trump for violating the law as part of his efforts to generate profits for himself, his family, his company,” James said Wednesday morning. “The complaint demonstrates that Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us.”

The tweet thread beginning here from AG James lays out the case against Trump.

The suit claims that Trump has regularly inflated the value of pretty much all of his assets—from Trump Tower to Mar-a-Lago to the former Trump hotel in Washington, D.C., in order to secure favorable loan and tax arrangements. For example, the suit alleges that Trump has valued Mar-a-Lago as high as $739 million, when it should have been valued at $75 million.

Trump used that higher valuation, James alleges, ”based on the false premise that it was unrestricted property and could be developed for residential use, even though Mr. Trump himself signed deeds donating his residential development rights and sharply restricting changes to the property.”

“Mr. Trump made known through Mr. Weisselberg that he wanted his net worth on the Statements to increase—a desire Mr. Weisselberg and others carried out year after year in their fraudulent preparation of the Statements,” the lawsuit said. “The scheme to inflate Mr. Trump’s net worth also remained consistent year after year.”

James is restricted from pursuing criminal charges in the matter, but is referring her findings “to the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, noting that the conduct detailed in the complaint appears to violate federal law, specifically bank fraud and false statements to a bank.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.