Posts tagged with "Trump Organization"

The heat is on: Trump-probe prosecutors in Manhattan convene special grand jury

May 27, 2021

Manhattan prosecutors have convened a special grand jury in their investigation of former President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization—signaling that the office is seeking to bring charges in the case, according to people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The development signals that the office is seeking criminal indictments following a multiyear investigation into the Trump Organization and its officers, former prosecutors said. District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has said the office is investigating possible bank, tax, or insurance fraud.

Special grand juries typically sit for at least several months, compared with regular grand juries, which are impaneled for a month. They often hear multiple complex cases, such as white-collar investigations.

“Special grand juries are common when state prosecutors get to the point where they are ready to seek an indictment but the evidence is too complex or lengthy to present during the normal four-week term,” Daniel R. Alonso, a former federal prosecutor who was Vance’s chief assistant, told the Journal.

The special grand jury was earlier reported by The Washington Post.

A spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization and a lawyer for Trump didn’t respond to requests for comment.

However, ,Trump said in a statement on May 25 that the investigations by Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James, both Democrats, were purely political.

“This is a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history,” said Trump. “Our Country is broken.”

The New York attorney general’s office, which had said it was conducting a civil investigation into the Trump Organization, said last week that its probe had a “criminal component.”  James said during an unrelated news conference last week that two assistant attorneys general were working alongside the district attorney’s office.

Research contact: @WSJ

Report: Trump campaign siphoned donor money to his debt-strapped businesses after election loss

February 10, 2021

New financial disclosures have raised myriad questions about the Trump campaign’s post-election spending following #45’s loss to President Joe Biden last November, Salon reports.

Based on campaign finance disclosures, Trump’s re-election campaign spent at least $81,000 in donor money on Trump’s businesses. In addition, the Trump joint fundraising committee—which split its donations with the Republican National Committee—spent another $331,000 in donor funds following the election, according to an analysis by Forbes.

Trump and Republicans plowed millions into his businesses during and after his time in office, Salon notes: All told, the campaign paid at least $2.8 million to the Trump Organization and the joint fundraising committee spent another $4.3 million on Trump’s businesses between January 20, 2017 and December 31, 2020.

Specifically, Salon notes, the joint committee spent more than $300,000 for space, lodging and catering at Trump’s hotel business in the wake of his election loss. The campaign also spent tens of thousands to rent space at Trump Tower after November 3.

The campaign and the joint committee each also separately paid more than $30,000 for air travel to DT Endeavor, a company believed to be owned by Trump.

Trump has as much as $1 billion in business debt that will soon come due. A New York Times investigation into years of his tax returns showed that he has reported hundreds of millions in losses in recent years.

The campaign also reported paying $6,037 to Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem, a Republican who pushed to overturn Trump’s electoral defeat in the state, the Arizona Republic first reported. Finchem, who is not a lawyer, was paid for “legal consulting” in a “recount” effort through a company he did not include in his most recent financial disclosure, according to the campaign’s filings.

Finchem told the Republic that the payment was for costs related to “crowd control and security” for a meeting he held with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani at a hotel on Nov. 30 about unfounded claims of election-rigging.

He later promoted the Trump rally that preceded the deadly January 6 Capitol riot and was set to speak outside the Capitol that day, according to the Arizona Republic.

Finchem, who said he never got within 500 yards of the Capitol building, posted a photo of a mob of Trump supporters on the Capitol steps, writing that it is “what happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.”

Now, Newsweek reports, Arizona legislators are considering expelling Finchem from office—claiming he violated his oath and undermined democracy by attending the rally and promoting unfounded allegations of election fraud.

State Representative César Chávez, a Phoenix Democrat, filed an ethics complaint last month, arguing that Finchem’s social media posts “demonstrate beyond any doubt that he was participated in the insurrection in Washington, D.C. and supported others in their efforts.”

The left-leaning watchdog group Accountable.US said the financial disclosure suggested that Trump was “paying state legislators” to join his “two-month crusade to try and stay in power.”

“Mark Finchem must explain this payment from the Trump campaign and how it influenced his official work as a legislator to try and overturn a free and fair election,” a spokesperson told the Arizona Republic.

Meanwhile, Salon reports, while the latest disclosures shed some light on the campaign’s post-election spending, Trump is still sitting on much of the cash he raised from supporters—ostensibly meant to fund his election legal challenges. Trump raised more than $170 million after the election, after bombarding supporters with fundraising appeals; but most of the money went to a fundraising committee he set up after his defeat rather than his legal efforts.

Research contact: @Salon

Stimulus bill prohibits Trump family, lawmakers from benefiting from loan programs

March 26, 2020

The $2 trillion stimulus bill that the White House and Senate leaders were expected to sign off on this Wednesday prohibits either Congressional lawmakers or President Donald Trump’s family business from benefiting from loans or investments through its corporate liquidity program, The Hill reports.

“We wrote a provision, not just the president, but any major figure in government, Cabinet, Senate, congressmen — if they have majority, they have majority control, they can’t get grants or loans and that makes sense,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said in a CNN interview. “Those of us who write the law shouldn’t benefit from the law.”

Trump acknowledged on March 21 that the coronavirus pandemic is hurting his family business, The Hill said. Since the start of the U.S. outbreak, dozens of state and local governments have ordered nonessential businesses—such as hotels and resorts —to close.

“I wouldn’t say you’re thriving when you decide to close down your hotels and your businesses,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about reports that Trump Organization properties are being adversely affected by COVID-19.

“But is it hurting me? Yeah, it’s hurting me, and it’s hurting Hilton, and it’s hurting all of the great hotel chains all over the world,” he added.

At a Saturday morning White House press briefing, Trump was asked if he would accept stimulus money from the stimulus package meant to counter some of the damage the pandemic has done to the economy.

“I don’t know,” Trump said. “I just don’t know what the government assistance would be for what I have. I have hotels. Everybody knew I had hotels when I got elected. They knew I was a successful person when I got elected, so it’s one of those things.”

However, before the 2016 election, Trump had promised that his children, Don Jr. and Eric, would run the Trump Organization and that he would keep his distance from the company. However, that has not happened.

The provision to ban lawmakers from benefiting from Treasury Department programs in the stimulus bill was among 19 items highlighted by Schumer in his letter to colleagues describing the contents of the bill.

“Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has secured a provision in the agreement that will prohibit businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and heads of Executive Departments from receiving loans or investments from Treasury programs,” his office said in an email to reporters. “The children, spouses and in-laws of the aforementioned principals are also included in this prohibition.”

Research contact: @thehill

Trump’s travel ban exempts his own European resorts

March 13, 2020

President Donald Trump’s new European travel restrictions will not affect the occupancy rates at his properties: The ban exempts countries—Ireland and Scotland in the United Kingdom—where three, struggling Trump Organization  golf resorts are located, according to a report by Politico.

Specifically,  the resorts that have been excluded from the new containment regulations include the Trump Turnberry golf course in Firth of Clyde in Ayrshire, Scotland; the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg, Ireland; and the Trump International Golf Links in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Trump already has been under fire for visiting his properties in both Ireland and Scotland as president. In doing so, he has profited from U.S. taxpayer money being spent there-for example, to cover the cost of U.S. Secret Service accommodations and meals. The president has been saddled with lawsuits and investigations throughout his term alleging that he’s violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause by accepting taxpayer money other than his salary.

According to Politico, the U.S. government proclamation initiating the ban targets 26 European countries that comprise a visa-free travel zone known as the Schengen Area.

The United Kingdom, which is home to Trump Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links, and Ireland, which is home to another Trump-branded hotel and golf course at Doonbeg, do not participate in the Schengen Area. Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are also not part of the Schengen Area.

Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, is scheduled to meet with  Trump at the White House in one of the few events related to St. Patrick’s Day that has not been canceled due to coronavirus concerns.

The administration’s European travel proclamation notes that “the Schengen Area has exported 201 COVID-19 cases to 53 countries. Moreover, the free flow of people between the Schengen Area countries makes the task of managing the spread of the virus difficult.”

EU leaders condemned Trump’s move on Thursday, and disputed the president’s criticism of Europe’s handling of the crisis.

“The Coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel said in a joint statement.

“The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation,” they said, adding that the bloc was “taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus.”

Research contact: @politico

Going south? Trump’s Miami resort in mix to host G7 summit

July 23, 2019

The Trump administration, which next year will host the leaders of the world’s seven most powerful industrialized economies for the G7 summit, is down to its final few choices after completing site surveys of possible locations —and Trump National Doral, the president’s 800-acre golf club in Miami, is among the finalists, Axios reported on July 22.

The G7 comprises the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada—traditionally, this country’s closest allies; although President Trump has shown a preference for other nation states during his time in office.

Trump loves showing off and promoting his properties with no qualms about criticism for mixing state and personal business, and his interest in hosting the G7 at Doral was first mentioned by The Washington Post last month.

The Post also reported, on May 15, that the Doral was “in steep decline, according to [Trump Organization] documents,” with operating income down 69% since 2015.

The downturn at this Trump property “is especially significant,” the Post said, “because the resort had seemed better insulated from political backlash than other Trump properties, protected by its place in golf’s history, by its recent renovations, and by its location in a booming state that won Trump won in 2016.” It wasn’t.

Thus, the G7 would provide opportunities for extra conference bookings and worldwide publicity for the underperforming property.

This would be the first G7 summit since 2012 to be held in the United States. At that time, former President Barack Obama invited leaders to Camp David.

Research contact: @Axios

A racist, a con man, and a cheat: Michael Cohen characterizes Donald Trump in House testimony

February 28, 2019

President Donald Trump’s former “fixer” and personal attorney Michael Cohen appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on February 27 to “correct the record.”

In the process, Cohen characterized his former boss as “a racist, a con man, and a cheat”—and said he regretted his loyalty to the man for whom he had worked for ten years.

Cohen admitted last year that he lied to the House Intelligence Committee in his September 2017 testimony about his machinations on behalf of the Trump Organization.

Specifically, he misrepresented facts about the timing of his negotiations with the Kremlin for a Moscow Trump Tower; as well as about Trump’s relationships with Felix Sater and Roger Stone, who are targets of the Russia investigation; about a “massive dump” of Democratic National Committee emails; and about payoffs to Trump’s paramours.

Cohen also said that he was in the room both when Stone told Trump via speaker phone that the email dump was coming shortly; and when Donald Trump, Jr., told his father that he had confirmed the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that would provide “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

“I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience,” Cohen said in his own opening statement. adding, “ I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat. He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.

Cohen admitted, “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates. In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell  me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie. There were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa Caucus in January 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me ‘How’s it going in Russia?’– referring to the Moscow Tower project.”

He added, “You need to know that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.”

In discussing his career at the Trump Organization, Cohen said, “At first, I worked mostly on real estate developments and other business transactions. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Trump brought me into his personal life and private dealings. Over time, I saw his true character revealed.”

Among the tidbits that he dropped about the president’s character during his testimony are the following:

  • “Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great,” Cohen testified. “He had no desire or intention to lead this nation—only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the ‘greatest infomercial in political history.’”
  • While Cohen was in a limousine with Trump, driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, Trump commented that only black people could live that way. “And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid,” Cohen said.
  • Trump directed Cohen to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons event. The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. “Mr. Trump [then] directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself,” Cohen said.
  • Trump directed Cohen “to call business owners, many of whom were small businesses, that were owed money for their services and [tell] them no payment or a reduced payment would be coming. When I advised Mr. Trump of my success, he actually reveled in it.”
  • “He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did. Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets. She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly—and she did not deserve that,” Cohen said.
  • Trump tasked Cohen with handling the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam draft. “Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery,” Cohen remarked. “He told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters, but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment. He finished the conversation with the following comment. ‘You think I’m stupid? I wasn’t going to Vietnam.’

Cohen was reviled by the Republican members of the committee, who said they wondered why they were listening to additional testimony from a convicted liar who would be going to prison soon.

In addition to apologizing for his lies, Cohen stated, “I am not a perfect man. I have done things I am not proud of, and I will live with the consequences of my actions for the rest of my life. But today, I get to decide the example I set for my children and how I attempt to change how history will remember me. I may not be able to change the past, but I can do right by the American people here today.”

Research contact: @RepCummings

Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg is granted immunity by federal prosecutors in Cohen probe

August 27, 2018

Just when President Donald Trump might have thought it was safe to look at the news again, Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity by New York federal prosecutors in their investigation into the POTUS’s former personal attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen—in which Trump already has been implicated, The Wall Street Journal  and MSNBC reported on August 24.

Cohen pleaded guilty on August 22 to violating campaign finance laws at Trump’s direction, when he paid hush money to prevent the stories of Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, two women who allegedly had extramarital affairs with Trump, from going public during Trump’s 2016 campaign.

According to the Journal’s report, Weisselberg was called to testify before a federal grand jury in the investigation last month—however, the details of that testimony remain unknown. It is unclear whether the CFO knew, or talked about, Trump’s knowledge of the payments.

However, a former Trump organization executive told the news outlet that Trump would sometimes point out to him how loyal Weisselberg had been to him for decades.

A spokesperson for the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment to the Journal about Weisselberg’s  role in the investigation—and a spokesperson for the Trump Organization didn’t respond either.

According to the news outlet, “The subpoena illustrates that investigators are seeking input from Trump’s closest colleagues in the Trump Organization, particularly those with knowledge of the company’s financial dealings.”

The Huffington Post reported on August 24 that “No one knows Trump’s finances better than Weisselberg.” Aside from Trump himself, the HuffPost said, Weisselberg is the longest-serving employee of the Trump Organization. He has worked for the company since the 1970s, beginning as an accountant with Fred Trump, the president’s father, and working his way up to chief financial officer.

A poll of registered voters released by Fox News on August 23 shows approval of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian intervention in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is at 59%, up 11 points from July. What’s more, 40% expect the probe will find President Donald Trump committed criminal or impeachable offenses.

Research contact: @foxnewspoll