Levin Report

How Screwed Are Donald Trump and His Adult Children, and Other Questions You Might Have About the “Staggering” Fraud Lawsuit Against Them

How exactly did the alleged illegal activity go down? Was Tiffany involved? Is there any chance this could lead to prison time? And more!
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Paul Morigi

By now, you’ve likely heard the news that on Wednesday morning, New York attorney general Letitia James filed a giant lawsuit against Donald Trump, his three eldest children, and the Trump Organization, alleging more than a decade of “staggering” fraud that allowed the family to rake in hundreds of millions in ill-gotten gains. In a 222-page filing, James accused the defendants of spending years systematically lying about the value of their assets in order to guarantee bigger loans, better insurance rates, and to smaller tax bills. For example, according to the suit, while 40 Wall Street, a downtown building owned by the Trump Organization, was valued at $200 million on a tax filing in 2010, the very next year, the valuation had suddenly skyrocketed to $524 million. In total, the complaint alleges that the defendants made over 200 false and misleading valuations from 2011 to 2021, some of which were made during Trump's presidency. “The pattern of fraud that was used by Mr. Trump and the Trump organization was astounding,” James told reporters, noting that, for regular people, it’s illegal to lie to banks to secure loans, whether it’s for mortgages or to send their children to college. “There cannot be different rules for different people in this country or in this state,” she said. The AG’s office is seeking $250 million in damages and to permanently ban the ex-president, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump from ever running a business in New York again, among other penalties.

At this time, you probably have questions. Luckily, we have answers.

How did the fraud alleged by James work, exactly?

Honestly, it was pretty simple: They (allegedly) just made shit up, and quite boldly at that. For example, Trump’s triplex in Trump Tower is 10,996 square feet. But in 2015, he said claimed it was approximately 3 times that size in order to secure a completely ridiculous valuation of $327 million. (“That price was absurd given the fact that at that point only one apartment in New York City had ever sold for even $100 million, at a price per square foot of less than $10,000, and that sale was in a newly built, ultra-tall tower,” James’ office said. “In 30-year-old Trump Tower, the record sale at that time was a mere $16.5 million at a price of less than $4,500 per square foot.”) At Trump Park Avenue, the man with his name on the door valued, per James, “12 rent-stabilized units at market rate, inflating the value by 65 times.” At Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach for-profit club and home, Trump said the property was worth $739 million when, in fact, it is worth roughly one tenth of that due to restrictions on development (and, we’re guessing, the ketchup stains that are impossible to get out of the rugs). At a Westchester golf club, a valuation was generated by taking into account steep initiation fees that were never collected. The lawsuit includes numerous other examples of what the AG’s office says are false financial filings, including one in which Trump allegedly inflated his wealth on financial statements that were provided to Deutsche Bank when he was trying to buy the Buffalo Bills.

They say children should not have to pay for the sins of their father. Are Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric being unfairly swept up in all this? Are they actually just innocent kids we should all give a break?

[Author flashes the “give me a minute sign” while she catches her breath from laughing.]

In a word, no. In several words: No! Come on! According to James, Trump’s three eldest children—all of whom have served as executives of the firm—“knowingly participated” in the fraudulent schemes laid out in the complaint, which “required” both Trump and their assistance to pull off on such a large scale. In Vegas, for example, the suit accuses Eric Trump of using “the fraudulent valuation methods and assumptions” laid out by the AG to inflate the value of Trump Vegas every year from 2013 to 2016. Donald Trump Jr. was apparently in on the Trump Park Avenue scam. Ivanka, the apple of the ex-president’s very creepy eye, was allegedly involved in securing loans to buy Florida and Chicago properties in 2012, loans that were issued in part due to false financial statements. “On each of those transactions with Deutsche Bank, Ms. Trump was aware that the transactions included a personal guaranty from Mr. Trump that required him to provide annual Statements of Financial Condition and certifications,” the lawsuit says. 

You’ve referred to Trump’s “adult children,” but have left out Tiffany, who is 28. Was she sued too?

She was not. Tiffany has never worked for the Trump Organization, and while she may have felt left out of the family when she was growing up, that’s obviously paying off for her now.

Where was Trump when he learned about the lawsuit?

That’s not clear at this time; most likely trying to intercept the mail before his housekeeper could open the penis-enlarging pills he’d ordered from China a week prior, even though he TOLD everyone he had something PRIVATE coming and that they were NOT to go through his stuff.

How is this connected to the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal case against the Trump Organization?

The cases are separate but have some overlap. Both offices opened parallel investigations on the suspicion that the Trump Organization had committed fraud, and in 2021, the attorney general’s office joined the DA’s criminal inquiry. In July 2021, the Trump Organization and its longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg, were criminally charged by the DA for engaging in a yearslong scheme to enrich company executives with noncash perks on which taxes were not paid. Last month, Weisselberg pleaded guilty, and as part of that deal, will have to testify against Trump Organization, which has pleaded not guilty, at a trial scheduled to take place in October.

In her Wednesday filing, James said her lawsuit partially draws on Trump’s alleged instructions to Weisselberg to inflate his assets on financial statements. Weisselberg, along with another Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney, have also been named defendants.

If James’s suit is a civil one, does that mean the Trumps don’t have to worry about prison time?

Not exactly! While it’s true that James’s office does not have the authority to criminally prosecute the Trumps, she has referred her findings to federal prosecutors and Internal Revenue Service and has noted that, in addition to allegedly violating a number of state criminal laws, they “plausibly” broke federal criminal law too.

In related news, Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg said Wednesday his criminal “investigation concerning former President Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization, and its leadership is active and ongoing.”

Is there any overlap with the classified-documents investigation?

You know, you wouldn’t think there would be, but actually, yes. In the suit, James’s office said it believes the tax records seized as part of the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago may have been purposely hidden from them. Synergies!

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Did James give a shout-out to Michael Cohen, a.k.a. Trump’s former fixer?

She did! The attorney general said the investigation began after Cohen told Congress in 2019 that Trump had a habit of inflating and deflating his assets for financial gain.

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Are Eric and Donald Jr. saying dumb things about all this on Twitter?

Does a bear shit in the woods?

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Expect both Trump boys to appear on Fox News tonight and/or in the coming days complaining that no one in history has ever been persecuted more than the Trumps, including those witch ladies in Salem.

What about Trump?

As you know, he’s been banned from Twitter for some time now, but he did take to Truth Social to attack James, writing: “Another Witch Hunt by a racist Attorney General, Letitia James, who failed in her run for Governor, getting almost zero support from the public, and now is doing poorly against Law & Order A.G. candidate, highly respected Michael Henry. I never thought this case would be brought - until I saw her really bad poll numbers. She is a fraud who campaigned on a ‘get Trump’ platform, despite the fact that the city is one of the crime and murder disasters of the world under her watch!”

Later, he criticized her for “spending all of her time” fighting him “instead of fighting murder and violent crime, which is killing New York State.”

Is this the only legal issue the ex-president has to worry about?

Girl, you know it isn‘t! There are literally dozens of lawsuits against Trump. There’s the criminal inquiry over the classified documents, the Justice Department’s criminal probe of January 6 and the plot to overturn the election, the Georgia criminal investigation re: the 2020 election, the DC attorney general’s criminal investigation of January 6, and the Westchester County district attorney’s criminal investigation into the Trump Organization. You can read up on all of it here.

Are Donald Trump and his kids going to turn on each other to save themselves?

They’re all objectively horrible people, so maybe!

The migrants Ron DeSantis thought he could treat like chattel lawyered up to sue his ass

Ron DeSantis obviously doesn’t think very highly of the roughly Venezuelan migrants he shipped off to Martha’s Vineyard last week and we know this because if he had, he wouldn’t have used them like political pawns for his evil little stunt. So it probably came as something of a shock to the Florida governor to learn that after he dumped them on the island, the people he’d treated like chattel acquired legal representation in order to sue his sorry ass. But, surprise, Ronny-boy!

Per The New York Times:

The migrants who were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last week filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and other state officials who orchestrated the flights to Massachusetts, saying that they had engaged in a “fraudulent and discriminatory scheme.”

The complaint, which was filed in federal court in Boston, states that the Florida officials induced the migrants to board the two planes from Texas by falsely promising them that there would be “work opportunities, schooling for the children and immigration assistance” when they arrived at their destination. Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, the executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, an organization providing legal assistance to the migrants, said in a statement that “no human being should be used as a political pawn in the nation’s highly polarized debate over immigration.”

The migrants are seeking unspecified damages from their suit, which also names Jared Perdue, the secretary of Florida’s Department of Transportation, as a defendant. They are also seeking to stop the practice of transporting migrants across states lines “by fraud and misrepresentation.”

Oren Sellstrom, the litigation director for Lawyers for Civil Rights, told the Times on Tuesday that “the perpetrators who approached our clients in Texas gained their trust by offering individuals who were in desperate situations basic life necessities.” According to the suit, individuals working with DeSantis distributed items such as $10 McDonald’s gift cards to the migrants in order to gain their trust. The suit also accuses the defendants of manufacturing an “official-looking brochure” that “lift[ed] language from the Massachusetts Refugee Resettlement Program, a governmental program with highly specific eligibility requirements” for which none of the migrants that were flown to Martha’s Vineyard were eligible, in order to convince them to get on the plane. Before the flight, they were reportedly told they were headed to Boston or Washington, DC; before landing, according to the complaint, they were informed the new destination was the tiny island off of Cape Cod. While DeSantis has defended himself by releasing a copy of a “consent form” he says the migrants signed, according to Popular Information, “significant portions were not translated into Spanish.”

In an unsurprisingly callous response to the suit, Taryn Fenske, a spokesperson for DeSantis, said the migrants chose to board the flights, not mentioning that they were apparently lured onto them under false pretenses. “The transportation of the immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard was done on a voluntary basis. The immigrants were homeless, hungry, and abandoned—and these activists didn’t care about them then. Florida’s program gave them a fresh start in a sanctuary state, and these individuals opted to take advantage of chartered flights to Massachusetts.”

Marco Rubio is hopping mad that the poor migrants his governor pal just wanted to exploit and never hear from again are standing up for themselves

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Yes, “people”…

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