New York City investigators from the Manhattan District attorney office started an investigation into hush-money paid by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Mr. Trump. However, the investigation seems to have widened to cover other possible crimes of bank and insurance fraud.
In a recent court filing in Manhattan, prosecutors suggested that their investigation widen to include possible bank and insurance fraud crimes. According to prosecutors, there are “public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.”
Earlier this week, prosecutors issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank seeking Trump’s financial records. The bank has a long relationship with Donald Trump, going back to the 1990s. During that time, the bank had loaned President Trump and his organization over two billion dollars.
Last year the bank provided prosecutors with copies of detailed records and financial statements that Trump had provided to the bank during that time he was seeking loans from the bank. According to people familiar with the investigation, true bank willingness to cooperate presents a serious threat to not only Donald Trump but also his family and organization.
Last year the Manhattan district attorney tried to get copies of Trump’s personal and corporate tax return, and the Supreme Court held last month that prosecutors have a right to seek those documents. Without those tax returns, prosecutors argued that their investigation would be hard strung.
In early 2019, Mr. Cohen testified on Capitol Hill that Mr. Trump had inflated the value of his assets in order at times to obtain financing from Deutsche Bank, including in 2014, when he bid unsuccessfully for the Buffalo Bills football team. He told Congress also that Donald Trump lies to the bank by exaggerating the value of his real state holdings as he sought loans from the bank. President Trump and his organization accused Cohen of lying. His company has denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the Investigation into his dealing with the bank is politically motivated.
According to people with knowledge of the subpoena to Deutsche Bank the prosecutors are seeking documents on various topics related to Trump and his company, including any materials that might point to possible fraud, according to two people briefed on the subpoena’s contents. Any financial records received from the bank are subject to grand jury secrecy. The public will never know the contents of those documents unless the Manhattan prosecutors brought charges against Donald Trump and use those documents as evidence at trial.
Proving fraud, in this case, will not be easy. Assuming that prosecutors uncover evidence of fraud, a criminal charge could be very hard to prove because valuing real estate assets is a very subjective exercise that involves subjective estimates and other assumptions which makes it difficult to prove intent to commit fraud. Without specific criminal intention, it will be hard to convict Trump of bank fraud.