Civil Investigation Into Trump Family Business Expands


“New York Attorney General Letitia James has broadened her civil investigation into the accuracy of the Trump Organization’s financial statements to include the role of its long-time appraiser Cushman & Wakefield, according to recent court filings,” as explained by a new CNN report — and apparently, James is obtaining some successes. After recently filing a motion asking the court to force real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield to comply with subpoenas issued as part of her civil probe into Trump’s family business, the judge — New York’s Arthur Engoron — has ordered Cushman to show up in court this month.

“In an effort to determine whether certain valuations prepared by Cushman were fraudulent or misleading, and whether Cushman itself has engaged in fraudulent or misleading practices in its issuance of appraisals, (The Office of the Attorney General) has issued a series of subpoenas to Cushman including most recently subpoenas issued in September 2021 and February 2022,” James’s team recently explained. Predictably, Cushman & Wakefield disputed the notion that they’ve not undertaken appropriate levels of compliance with James’s investigation. James’s broader probe has focused on the Trump Organization’s apparent arbitrarily adjusted valuations for its assets — lower valuations for tax authorities would have meant smaller bills, while higher ones for potential lenders would have potentially culminated in favorable loan terms for the company because it seemed to be financially secure.

The services Cushman has provided for the Trump Organization include appraisals. James’s office has previously stated that Cushman was involved in the appraisal process for conservation easements at two Trump properties — in New York and California — that were falsely represented to tax authorities via “fraudulent or misleading” assessments of their worth, as James team explained. Higher-than-accurate valuations for the conservation easements would have set up the Trump company to obtain unearned tax benefits.

“Lawyers for the attorney general’s office said Cushman failed to comply with a subpoena sent in February and it recently stopped producing documents in connection with the September subpoena. In addition, the attorney general’s office said Cushman instructed four of its employees not to answer questions during depositions, citing privileges,” CNN explains. Investigators are hoping to obtain information including “whether the appraisers were pushed by the client in any respect, and whether Cushman’s substantial business with the Trump Organization in any way impacted the appraisals prepared or other valuation-related information provided, or compromised Cushman’s objectivity,” they explained. In the meantime, James is also pursuing testimony from former President Trump and two of his adult children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, and James also recently began seeking to get the former president held in contempt of court and fined $10,000 a day as long as his company keeps failing to comply with a subpoena demanding certain docs.

Separately, the criminal investigation into the Trump Organization run by the Manhattan district attorney’s office is continuing, although Alvin Bragg — the Manhattan-area district attorney — recently ended up rather publicly at odds with two prosecutors who’d been working on the case but left. Bragg recently indicated, per a report last week from The New York Times, that his office had conducted new interviews with witnesses and additional document examinations.