There could also be a case where Trump was warned by the authorities and he did it anyway. A prime example is where NARA repeatedly told him that he needed to return documents and it was illegal to hold onto them. Those communications are documented, and he can’t plausibly claim ignorance.
The same might apply here. His communications with his own counsel might be privileged, but if anyone else warned him, that shouldn’t be.
Well, then, unless Trump followed a rigorous policy of only ever talking to his lawyers all by himself, then that’s how he could get tripped up. And how likely is it that Trump, of all people, was that disciplined, all the time?
“It goes on for like a page and a half. It’s a big disclaimer. It’s a very powerful disclaimer. What we do is, here’s a financial statement but be careful, it may not be accurate, it may be way off.”
If this is acceptable business practice, that apparently relieves you of any responsibility of lying about your finances, why do banks even ask for it? I know they are supposed to do their own due diligence, so what is the point of requesting unreliable financial disclosures from the business seeking the loan? Accepting that looks like it puts all the responsibility on them for any loses.
Maybe TFG is an ignorant dufus. Perhaps people like him don’t need to pay attention to financial details because they always use their reputation or name as currency. Perhaps a bank sees him come in for a loan and they’re all “Oh, hey, you need a loan, we know you are good for it, big fella! Whatcha need?” That’s probably how TFG views the world - “I am a big shot. I get whatever I want. Only little people have to sign for loans.”
TFG also said in the same interview that he could declassify documents by thinking about them. Why would anyone outside that bubble pay attention to anything he says? Just assume it is a lie to feed his cult and get on with your life.
I just realized I forgot to link to a cite regarding the disclaimers. They are real and will be a part of his defense. What I don’t understand is why banks would accept such deceptions in the first place when they are clearly not in the banks’ interest.
“Even though several claims in financial statements that the Trump Organization provided to lenders can be proved false, analysts say in a New York Times piece, charging the former president with fraud remains a steep climb because of disclaimers that make clear the claims are unaudited and don’t follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).”
I should have been more clear. Clearly, 45’s lawyers will use those as a defense in court. So what? In the ongoing suits over the files the FBI quite lawfully took from Mar-a-Lago they’re repeatedly made defenses that higher courts have swatted away as inane. Other courts in the many cases that are being litigated have even indicated that some filings may be sanctionable.
His insisting that whatever he says is reality has no more objective meaning than insisting that the Bible is inerrant because it transcribes the English words spoken by Jesus.
My personal experience is that such disclaimers are commonplace. When I managed a medical office all of our financial statements were accompanied by the disclaimer to the effect, “this has not been independently audited according to general accounting principles, the undersigned firm relies on reports submitted by management and makes no representation or opinion as to accuracy or reliability of the enclosed figures. We are not independent with respect to [company].”
When applying for a loan the banks (or any other business who asks for said records) should require you to attest in writing that the reports are true to the best of your personal knowledge. That isn’t a foolproof tactic though, as one can obviously throw accountants under the bus and plead ignorance of his own business accounts in court.
The bank could always require an independent audit, i.e. name their own firm and require the auditor to verify figures, but that means shady businesses will just go to another bank. And even for legit businesses, who wants to pay for an audit, let alone go through with one?
I would think there’s a huge gap between using an uncommon valuation method and deliberately misrepresenting something by a factor of ten.
And isn’t the essence of the allegations that the same assets were undervalued for tax purposes? Hard to explain why something is enormously different in value for different purposes other than the financial benefit these distortions would provide.
IANAL, but … from past work experience and fading memory, two things come to mind:
“Caveat Emptor --” something about which I’ve long considered starting a thread – may be as American as apple pie, but it’s not bulletproof
Not everything can be shielded from liability via Disclaimers. ISTR that – in a past career – we often had to tell clients that the State we lived in did not allow disclaiming away liability on X or Y issue; therefore, that kind of language in a contract was ineffective.
My total WAG is that some of that would apply here, and that ‘intent and sophistication of the parties’ could matter. But it’s hard to see that a ‘billionaire’ couldn’t still be perceived as defrauding a multi-billion dollar financial institution. There’s a line there … somewhere … even if only in theory. The question seems to be: was it crossed.
Like the difference between ‘puffery’ and bullshit. I think most of us probably share an opinion on where on that line TFG tends to dwell
Not my area, but I would question the disclaimers’ ability to walk back one’s averred statements as to value if baseless or knowingly false. Unless he can show SOME basis for the claimed value, I’m not sure how well “You might wanna check yourself,” protects one who is actually lying. And if he represented the value of the same property differently in different situations when it was to his advantage to do so, sounds fraudulent to me. But I’ll ask the contract lawyer in the family…
I think this is the key. It’s not that they misrepresented the value of a property, it’s that they overvalued it for the purposes of acquiring loans, but undervalued the same property for tax purposes.
If they had come up with one incorrect valuation and stuck with it, there probably wouldn’t be much of a case.