New York Attorney General Opens Investigation of Trump Projects – The New York Times


New York Attorney General Opens Investigation of Trump Projects

The office of Attorney General Letitia James of New York issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank on Monday, opening a new front in the scrutiny of its relationship with President Trump.CreditCreditVictor J. Blue/Bloomberg
  • March 11, 2019

The New York attorney general’s office late on Monday issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for records relating to the financing of four major Trump Organization projects and a failed effort to buy the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League in 2014, according to a person briefed on the subpoenas.

The inquiry opens a new front in the scrutiny of Deutsche Bank, one of the few lenders willing to do business with Donald J. Trump in recent years. The bank is already the subject of two congressional investigations and was examined last year by New York banking regulators, who took no action.

The new inquiry, by the office of the attorney general, Letitia James, was prompted by the congressional testimony last month of Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, the person briefed on the subpoenas said. Mr. Cohen testified under oath that Mr. Trump had inflated his assets in financial statements, and Mr. Cohen provided copies of statements he said had been submitted to Deutsche Bank.

The inquiry by Ms. James’s office is a civil investigation, not a criminal one, although its focus and scope were unclear. The attorney general has broad authority under state law to investigate fraud and can fine — or in extreme cases, go to court to try to dissolve — a business that is found to have engaged in repeated illegality.

The request to Deutsche Bank sought loan applications, mortgages, lines of credit and other financing transactions in connection with the Trump International Hotel in Washington; the Trump National Doral outside Miami; and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, the person said.

Investigators also requested records connected to an unsuccessful effort to buy the Bills, the person said. Mr. Trump gave Deutsche Bank bare-bones personal financial statements in 2014 when he planned to make a bid for the team, The New York Times has reported. The deal fell through when the team was sold to a rival bidder for $1.4 billion.

Mr. Trump worked with a small United States-based unit of Deutsche Bank that serves ultra-wealthy people. The unit lent Mr. Trump more than $100 million in 2012 to pay for the Doral golf resort and $170 million in 2015 to transform the Old Post Office Building in Washington into a luxury hotel.

New Jersey-based Investors Bank was subpoenaed for records relating to Trump Park Avenue, a project it had backed.

Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank declined to comment. The Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment.

The subpoenas are a culmination of months of threats from Ms. James that she would aggressively investigate Mr. Trump. In August, referring to the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian interference in the 2016 election, she said “the president of the United States has to worry about three things: Mueller, Cohen, and Tish James.”

In her victory speech on the night she was elected in November, she said, “I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings, and every dealing, demanding truthfulness at every turn.” The next month, before taking office, she told NBC that “we will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family.”

Mr. Trump has a rich recent history of grievances against the New York attorney general’s office. Before former Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman resigned amid allegations of assault and abuse against women, he pursued cases against the Trump Foundation and Trump University. Mr. Trump has referred to him as “sleazebag AG Eric Schneiderman” and “Shady Eric.” He also assailed Mr. Schneiderman’s temporary successor, Barbara D. Underwood, and has referred to Ms. James as “yet another AG” who “openly campaigned on a GET TRUMP agenda.”

“Will never be treated fairly by these people — a total double standard of ‘justice,’” he added on Twitter.

In Congress, the House Intelligence Committee has been exploring real estate transactions related to Russia and other foreign interests, including Deutsche Bank loans to the Trump Organization.

Follow William Rashbaum on Twitter at @WRashbaum; follow Danny Hakim on Twitter at @dannyhakim.

Jesse Drucker contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: New Inquiry Into Banks That Dealt With Trump. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe


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Whistleblower Chelsea Manning arrested after refusing to testify in secret WikiLeaks case

Chelsea Manning

  • Chelsea Manning, the former US army analyst turned whistleblower, was arrested on Friday after she refused to testify before a federal grand jury on matters relating to her 2010 disclosure to WikiLeaks, multiple news outlets reported.
  • A judge ruled that Manning would be jailed until the grand jury’s proceedings are over or until she decided to testify, holding her in contempt of court.
  • Manning was previously imprisoned for seven years in relation to her WikiLeaks disclosures. Her 35-year sentence was cut short after President Barack Obama granted her clemency.
  • Manning was vocal about her struggles in prison, where she attempted suicide twice and underwent a gender transition despite being continually held in a men’s prison.

Chelsea Manning, the former US army analyst and whistleblower who leaked troves of classified material to WikiLeaks in 2010, was arrested on Friday after she reportedly refused to testify in front of a Virginia grand jury about her interactions with WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

“I’ve found you in contempt,” Judge Claude M. Hilton told Manning at the public ruling, according to The Washington Post. He said Manning will be jailed “either until you purge yourself or the end of the life of the grand jury.”

Manning said in a statement on Twitter that she had been summoned to appear before a secret grand jury on Wednesday. In response to each question, she said she answered, “I object to the question and refuse to answer on the grounds that the question is in violation of my First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendment, and other statutory rights.”

“All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010 — answers I provided in extensive testimony, during my court-martial in 2013,” her statement continued.

In January, WikiLeaks said federal prosecutors were working to get witnesses to testify against Assange in secret criminal proceedings being conducted by the Trump administration.

Read more: US prosecutors press witnesses to testify against Assange: WikiLeaks

Before the ruling, Manning told reporters, “I don’t believe in the grand jury process; I don’t believe in the secrecy of this.”

Manning’s lawyer, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, called the arrest an “an act of tremendous cruelty,” according to The Post.

Manning was imprisoned for seven years out of a 35-year sentence stemming from multiple counts under the Espionage Act. In 2017, she was released after President Barack Obama commuted her sentence.

Manning has said she suffered from mental-health problems in prison, where she attempted to commit suicide twice. During her incarceration, she spoke out about her treatment in the justice system as a transgender woman.

Throughout her sentence, she was housed in a men’s prison despite undergoing hormone and speech therapy as part of her transition.

Meltzer-Cohen commended prosecutors in the current case for working to address Manning’s medical needs, and Hilton said the court was available if US Marshals failed to address them, according to The Post.

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