Objective of the Trump Fraud Investigation: Did he mislead his own accountants?
A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump’s accounting firm Mazars USA declined to comment beyond saying she could not discuss her clients or her work for them without their consent, and that Mazars remained “engaged. to fulfill all our professional and legal obligations â. A lawyer for the firm, Jerry D. Bernstein, declined to give details.
A spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office declined to comment.
If prosecutors determine the statements were based on Mr. Trump’s own exaggerated claims, they could seize a set of false valuations as evidence that he intended to mislead his accountants and lenders.
Mr. Trump did not personally collect the data for the accountants, but the documents left no doubt as to who was responsible for their contents: âDonald J. Trump is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements in accordance with to accounting principles. generally accepted in the United States of America, âwrote its accountants in a cover letter attached to statements in 2011 and 2012.
Yet the accountants also admitted that they “neither verified nor reviewed” the information and “did not express an opinion or give any assurance about it,” a common caveat in the statements of the financial situation. The accountants revealed that in compiling the information for Mr. Trump, they had “become aware of deviations from generally accepted accounting principles in the United States of America.”
Armed with these caveats, Mr. Trump’s lawyers would most likely argue that no one, let alone sophisticated lenders, should have taken his valuations at face value. And even if his valuations were wrong, lawyers might argue, the lenders conducted their own analyzes of Mr. Trump’s assets and concluded that he was a worthy borrower.
Lawyers for Mr. Trump could also turn to people with property appraisals to say that the value of a hotel or office building can be subject to a variety of interpretations.
Mr. Trump, who has called Mr. Vance’s investigation a political witch-hunt, has made a similar defense in the past, attributing any financial inconsistencies to “an innocent form of exaggeration,” as he called it in his 1987 book “The Art of Business.