Documents obtained by ProPublica show “major inconsistencies” between the Trump Organization’s tax documents versus its loan documents, and that the organization “reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities.” In other words, two sets of books. One made the business look more profitable to lenders, while the other made it look less so to the tax man. Because, of course, Trump is a crook. “For instance,” ProPublica reports, “Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017.” While he was president, by the way. “He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.”
Real estate professionals—a dozen of them—that ProPublica spoke with said that there isn’t any kind of legal explanation for the variances in the documents. Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, said the discrepancies show “versions of fraud. […] This kind of stuff is not OK.” And not legal. Persons signing property tax forms in New Your City are “affirm[ing] the truth of the statements made.” In addition, “false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties.” As Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, who are in prison “for offenses that include falsifying tax and bank records, some of them related to real estate,” knew.
“It really feels like there’s two sets of books,” said financing and real estate expert Kevin Riordan, a professor who reviewed the documents ProPublica obtained through New York’s Freedom of Information Law. “[I]t feels like a set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender. […] It’s hard to argue numbers. That’s black and white.” Anne Milgram, a former attorney general for New Jersey, is blunt: “Certainly, if I were sitting in a prosecutor’s office, I would want to ask a lot more questions.”
The city is asking more questions, according to Laura Feyer, deputy press secretary for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The city is looking into” the Trump International Hotel and Tower discrepancies, she said, “and if there has been any underreporting, we will take appropriate action.” This isn’t all new news: The revelations confirm what former Trump lawyer Cohen told Congress in February. “It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes,” Cohen testified, “and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has subpoenaed records to confirm Cohen’s testimony from Trump’s accountant, Donald Bender, a partner at Mazars USA, the accounting firm that signed off on the two properties’ expense and income statements. Trump is fighting those subpoenas in court, as he is fighting Congress’ attempts to get his federal income tax returns. Probably because they’ll show he’s a crook.