The first of many hammers to come on Donald Trump's years of lying, grifting and defrauding the American people and the world came down today in New York, as detailed on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
According to New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday, the former President falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars over many years in wildly fraudulent financial statements that allowed him to unlawfully obtain bank loans as well as tax and insurance benefits he had not earned.
"Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to 'The Art of the Deal.' It's the art of the steal," alleged James near the end of her announcement this afternoon, detailing "astounding" financial falsehoods which Trump employed over decades. "There cannot be different rules for different people in this country or in this state, and former Presidents are no different. And so, today, we're making good on that promise, on our commitment, because no one --- no one --- is above the law," she said.
After a three-year probe, James filed a 222-page lawsuit [PDF] in New York state court against Trump and the Trump Organization, as well as his three oldest children, Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka. The company's longtime Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg and its Controller Jeffrey McConney were also named as defendants.
The A.G. detailed dozens of flagrant incidents of "staggering" fraud in her civil suit. It seeks to "permanently bar Mr. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump from serving as an officer or director in any New York corporation or similar business entity registered and/or licensed in New York state" and "bar Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization from entering into any New York real estate acquisitions for five years." The suit also seeks to disgorge some $250 million, the estimated "financial benefits obtained through the persistent fraudulent practices."
Moreover, James said that many of the violations of law detailed in her case are not only civil, but also criminal She has now referred those charges to both state and federal authorities at the Manhattan District Attorney's office, the IRS, and the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York.
Among the many fraudulent practices employed by Trump to inflate his self-worth, as detailed by James at her presser today, was his claim that his 11,000 square foot penthouse apartment at Trump Tower was actually 30,000 square feet. By falsely more than tripling the size of the apartment, he was able to value it at $327 million, far more, according to James, than any apartment has ever sold for in New York City. It was an overstatement, as Weisselberg conceded during his deposition, of "give or take" $200 million.
As James' office noted in their announcement of the suit today, Trump also lied about dozens of other properties, including Mar-a-Lago, which he valued in financial statements "as high as $739 million" when, in fact it "should have been valued at closer to $75 million."
But there is more. Much. All of which allowed the disgraced former President and TV star to inflate his net worth by billions of dollars in recent decades. We share the bulk of James' statement on today's show, in case you missed it. It was, at times, breathtaking.
We're joined today by accountability and national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel to discuss Jame's long-awaited civil suit in the Empire State and several of the many other ongoing criminal investigations bearing down on Trump elsewhere.
"It's important for people to remember that with this [case in New York], as with all of Trump's legal exposure, this stuff takes time," Wheeler cautions, explaining that Trump is going to do everything possible to stall the A.G.'s lawsuit, as he does with everything else. "So, it's not like tomorrow he's going to be put in cuffs by the IRS. This is his empire, and he is going to fight for his empire, he's going to fight for his brand."
Until James announced her lawsuit today, we had originally planned to discuss, with Wheeler, the DoJ's case against Trump at Mar-a-Lago, as a federal judge appointed by Trump has been running absurd and corrupt interference for him following the FBI's search at his Florida club, finding that he stole more than a thousand pages of highly classified national security documents upon leaving office.
"He probably still has classified documents lying around his properties," Wheeler argues, charging "the thing about Trump is he's never going to stop cheating." At least until someone stops him.
Right now, in addition to James' civil action on Wednesday, there are at least three other major criminal probes that Trump is being forced to contend with. Today was likely only the first shoe to drop in that regard. Stay tuned...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)