The following contains editorial content which is the opinion of the author.
NEW YORK- Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and New York State Attorney General Letitia James take Trump derangement syndrome to a whole other level. To say that both officials are obsessed with the former president is a vast understatement.
Case in point. According to the Washington Post (another one infected with the anti-Trump pathogen), the latest obsession is a building owned by the Trump Organization at 40 Wall Street in Manhattan.
In 2012 (nine years ago), the company was listing its assets for the purposes of securing potential lenders and valued the building at $527 million. That valuation would make the building one of the most valuable in the city of New York.
Apparently around a year later, Trump’s organization claimed the value of the building was only $16.7 million, according to newly released city records. All of this begs the question…since when do property owners determine the value of their property?
And even if they do disagree with an assessment of the property, there is a process they are required to go through in order to determine a value. Why then is this so important? Because it’s Trump, that’s why.
Vance’s office is now looking into the issue because for one, he is obsessed with Donald Trump. Why else would he have targeted an official of the Trump Organization for what amounted to an IRS violation?
Former New York Rep. Charlie Rangel (D) didn’t pay his taxes for years, and that never drew any scrutiny from the New York District Attorney’s Office.
In addition to the Wall Street property, Vance is obsessing on several other properties like it where the Trump Organization gave different value estimates, according to public records and the usual “whistleblowers” and “unnamed sources” from within Vance’s office who “spoke on the condition of anonymity.” In other words, this sounds like a typical leftist hit job.
The insiders claim that prosecutors from Vance’s office are investigating whether the Trump Organization violated the law by providing low values to property tax officers while using higher values for the purpose of either getting tax breaks or in order to impress lenders.
Meanwhile James, who fresh off her hit job (as well-deserved as it may have been) on former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to pave the road to the governor’s office, has signaled she is considering filing a lawsuit. When James ran for attorney general, one of her promises was to “get” Trump. Very shallow individual is she.
Likewise, Vance’s office convened a new grand jury which would be charged with looking at possible criminal charges, according to the “anonymous sources” familiar with the investigations.
There are a number of other properties under the Trump Organization umbrella which are apparently a target for scrutiny, including the former president’s California golf club where multiple values of either $900,000 or $25 million were claimed, as well as an estate in suburban New York where the values claimed ran between $56 million and $291 million.
It is claimed the valuations were entered in the five years before the former president was elected in 2016.
It should be noted it is a bit of a stretch to assume that Trump, as the namesake of a tremendously large organization was aware of everything going on within the company. The only reason the organization is a target is because “orange man bad.” If Trump hadn’t upset the apple cart by exposing the swamp, nobody would care.
According to the Post, prosecutors have obsessively dug into a number of Trump organization properties according to court papers and people familiar with the investigations…the aforementioned “anonymous sources.”
The paper notes prosecutors have obtained a trove of emails, planning documents and financial data, while even looking at initiation fees charged at the Trump golf course back ten years. In Los Angeles, for example, they have asked for geology reports on rock layers under the golf course—where the value was affected by a history of landslides.
The Post also reported they have sought detailed records from two outside companies that worked with the Trump Organization to determine the valuations—appraisal firm Cushman & Wakefield and a law firm—Morgan Lewis.
In court filings, prosecutors have referred to emails in which they allege Trump executives or a Morgan Lewis lawyer pushed appraisers to adjust their findings. Neither outfit responded to questions from the Post.
Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters? Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you. Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories. Click to check it out.
Some real estate appraisers told the Post it was somewhat unusual for a property owner to give property values which vary so widely during the same time period.
“This is way, way beyond anything that’s believable,” said Norm Miller, a professor of real estate finance at the University of San Diego, a property appraiser with 50 years of experience. “I’ve never seen anything with a gap that extreme.”
Of course, Miller does work in academia so it’s unknown if his politics may have helped sway his answer.
However some say that just because a property valuation is extreme it doesn’t necessarily mean it is illegal. Some legal experts noted that if prosecutors wish to prove some type of criminal element, they will need to do a lot more than merely prove the valuations cited by Trump officials were wrong.
“Is it overly optimistic? Is it an enthusiastic perception?” asked Robert Masters, a former top aide to the district attorney in Queens, New York. “Does that make it a lie?”
Masters pointed out that prosecutors would need to show the figures were deliberately falsified, in an attempt to deceive either a lender or the government. Masters said that might very well include a witness on the inside who could explain the decision-making behind the numbers.”
“Is there somebody there who can translate the books?” he said.
In a statement Monday, the Trump Organization said prosecutors would be better tasked focusing on other problems in New York City. Eric Trump, son of the former president and top Trump Organization executive called the investigations the “weaponization of political prosecutors.”
“It is eroding Americans’ confidence in the legal system and it has to stop,” Eric Trump wrote in a statement.
This past summer, Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and two Trump companies were indicted on charges of felony tax fraud. According to prosecutors, they allege Weisselberg deceived income tax authorities by hiding some pay and benefits he and other company executives received. In other words, they committed IRS violations not unlike any number of other Americans.
The former president is not accused of wrongdoing in the case and all have pleaded not guilty to the charges. A trial is not expected until late next year.
The investigations into Trump’s company have shifted somewhat in leadership and focus, the Post said. Vance did not run for reelection and will be replaced at the end of the year by another Democrat, Alvin Bragg.
James meanwhile has used her take-out of Cuomo as a means to vault herself into the Democratic nomination race to replace Cuomo next year, a run which she recently announced, although she is still currently assisting with the Manhattan DA’s probe. All three investigating officials have refused to comment to the Post.
Investigators have changed the focus of their investigations from the income tax issues to the property valuations. This came about courtesy of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who turned against Trump last year. Cohen claimed Trump used the depressed values to “cheat.” Trump struck back, noting that Cohen had previously pleaded guilty to providing false testimony to Congress in the past.
So obsessed is she with Trump that James’s office even had its own appraisals of Trump properties conducted in order to compare valuations of Trump properties, including 40 Wall Street and the California golf course located in the Los Angeles suburb of Rancho Palos Verdes.
That golf course was on top of oceanfront cliffs in that community, and have a history of landslides. In 1999, prior to the Trump Organization’s purchase of the course, a 2,000 foot landslide pulled the 18th hole into the Pacific Ocean. The Trump Organization intended to build homes along the course, however those efforts were blocked by the city, noting there was a layer of slippery ash which made the area vulnerable to landslides.
In 2013, Trump’s company told tax assessors that the 17-acre plot was worth only $900,000, less than a single family home in that neighborhood.
In 2014, the Trump Organization looked to get a conservation easement on that same parcel which in effect forfeited the right to build homes there. The easement would serve to be a form of a charitable donation, which means that instead of physically donating money, the company was donating value—in other words, the money the land would have brought him if he’d been permitted to build homes on it.
Using an appraisal from Cushman & Wakefield, the company valued the property at $25 million.
After Reuter’s published an article this past May, it caught Letitia James’s attention and she unleashed investigators to contact the city of Rancho Palos Verdes, where they asked for literally hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. Obsessive? You decide.
James claims that even though the golf course was in California, her office has the right to investigate it because the owner of the Trump Organization…Donald Trump…lived in New York at the time.
Two other Trump properties in Westchester County, north of New York City have also gotten James’s attention, a 212-acre estate called Seven Springs and a golf club in the town of Briarcliff Manor. Both properties had similar issues as the Wall Street and California properties.
Another appraiser who looked at the Briarcliff Manor golf club, said that the widely disparate numbers between the two values cited didn’t indicate evidence of a crime in his opinion.
The Post said that the full scope into the investigations, other than what was leaked apparently, is unclear since it is being held in a grand jury.
Under New York law, it is a felony to falsify business records, file false documents with the government or make false statements on a sworn document, however all those laws require proof of intent. This means prosecutors would have to show that “someone made the false statements knowingly, in an effort to deceive or to cover up a crime.”
Legal experts told the Washington Post that prosecutors could be looking at an uphill battle in trying to apply such laws to the real estate industry, mainly due to the fact that property values are often subjective and “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”
Trying to pin all of this on the former president is a fool’s errand, but then we’re talking about Democrats, a ship of fools.
A possible defense is that the Trump Organization was relying on outside experts, such as appraisers, accountants and so on, which would mean prosecutors would then have to look at what Trump executives told those companies or experts.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, aka Trump Delusion Syndrome. The Democratic Party is full of them.
Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”. While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers. And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.
And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.
Make sure you click “following” and then click “see first” so you don’t miss a thing! (See image below.) Thanks for being a part of the LET family!