Release Of Trump Docs Ordered By Judge In Civil Investigation


New York Judge Arthur Engoron has ordered the large real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield to comply with subpoenas from New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) related to the state official’s ongoing civil investigation of the Trump Organization. Because that investigation is civil in nature, it’s not set up to lead to any criminal charges — but it could lead to a lawsuit in the event of findings of misconduct, and that hypothetical lawsuit seemingly might end with financial penalties for the Trump company in the event that James successfully proves her claims.

Attorney Kevin Wallace, who works with James’s office, recently said that “enforcement action” targeting the Trump Organization could come after a tolling agreement between the company and investigators expires. That agreement temporarily paused the clocks on statutes of limitations while the process of obtaining documents from the Trump Organization began to play out. Investigators “will likely need to bring some sort of enforcement action in the near future to preserve our rights,” Wallace said — seemingly suggesting court action over misconduct on the Trump Organization’s part may some soon. In the meantime, Cushman & Wakefield has been ordered to comply with subpoenas regarding its work on three specific Trump-owned properties, including the Seven Springs Estate, Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles, and 40 Wall Street. The other two properties besides the golf club are both in New York. James has been investigating apparent deceptive adjustments to the Trump Organization’s valuations of its assets, and Cushman provided appraisals for all three of those properties.

James herself remarked as follows on Monday:

‘For the second time today, a judge has made clear that no one is above the law. Cushman & Wakefield’s work for Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization is clearly relevant to our investigation, and we are pleased that has now been confirmed by the court. Our investigation will continue undeterred.’

Among other examples of the relevant issues, deceptive valuations for conservation easements at the Seven Springs Estate and California golf club have been among the items under investigation. Artificially higher valuations for the easements in question would have set the Trump company up to receive unearned tax benefits. And as specifically explained in a prior press release from James’s office, those easement “valuations were used to obtain tax deductions and involved appraisals issued by Cushman.” Other arms of the investigation have focused on the Trump Organization appearing to deceive prospective lenders about the company’s financial state, and Cushman was involved in those developments as well. Between 2010 and 2012, the firm valued the Wall Street property at no more than $220 million in appraisals for a particular bank. In 2015, Cushman valued the same property at $550 million for a lender. Engoron, meanwhile, delivered his conclusions regarding Cushman on the same day he formally found Trump himself in contempt of court and imposed $10,000 daily fines set to continue as long as his non-compliance with document demands from James also continues.