Donald Trump cannot seem to keep himself out of trouble. This time, the celebrity-in-chief’s private businesses are being investigated for allegedly misleading lenders by inflating the value of its assets.
The New York attorney general announced the filing on Monday, after initially beginning its investigation into Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, last February. In the document, signed by a deputy to Attorney General Letitia James, the office said it is investigating Trump’s use of “Statements of Financial Condition.” The filing is also requesting that a New York state judge force the Trump Organization to hand over information that it has been withholding from investigators, including a crucial subpoena seeking an interview with Trump’s son Eric.
Eric Trump had initially been scheduled to be interviewed by investigators in late July but canceled without much notice. He is now refusing to be interviewed altogether. His lawyers have stated, “We cannot allow the requested interview to go forward … pursuant to those rights afforded to every individual under the Constitution.”
The Washington Post reported last year that Trump had inflated the potential sale value of the Seven Springs property in a “Statement of Financial Condition,” which is a document used to demonstrate his wealth. In fact, according to the 2011 statement, he flat out lied. Trump claimed that the property had been “zoned for nine luxurious homes,” and that the value of those home lots raised the overall property value to $261 million, which was a much larger price tag than the $20 million assessed by local officials. Authorities confirmed that Trump had indeed received preliminary conceptual approval for those homes, but never completed the process or obtained final zoning permission. Ultimately, the homes were never constructed.
While many details of the investigation were redacted from the filing, valuations of three Trump properties: a Los Angeles golf course, an office building at 40 Wall St. and a country estate called “Seven Springs” in Westchester County, N.Y. were mentioned.
The Trump Organization’s chief legal officer, Alan Garten, maintains the Trump Organization’s innocence.
“The Trump Organization has done nothing wrong,” he said in a statement. He went on to attribute the investigation to the attorney general’s disdain for Trump politically, saying that the “continued harassment of the company as we approach the election (and filing of this motion on the first day of the Republican National Convention) once again confirms that this investigation is all about politics.”