Amidst a legal whirlwind, a deeper look into Trump’s financial practices reveals implications not only for the former president but also for the political climate and the court of the public opinion.
A Habit of Exaggeration
New York Attorney General Letitia James’s civil fraud case against Trump, now in its second week, is set to unveil never-before-seen details about Trump’s business.
Donald Trump, throughout his career, frequently inflated the worth of his properties. Case in point: in 2010, Trump claimed his Trump Tower apartment was nearly three times its actual size.
Similarly, Trump’s 70-story office building was appraised at $260 million, but he later claimed it was nearly double that at $530 million.
Trump’s company also declared the Niketown store was worth $445 million in 2018, a claim that an expert refuted, terming Trump’s valuation process nonsensical.
Financial Reputation at Stake
The trial seeks to determine if Trump and his organization issued fraudulent annual statements for a decade, declaring real estate values different from actual worth.
The case hits Trump’s biggest insecurity, his financial reputation. He’s long equated his self-worth with wealth, pushing the media and others to see him as richer than he is.
Justice Arthur Engoron found that the Trump company committed fraud, but a final decision awaits the trial’s conclusion, which could significantly impact Trump’s business future in the state.
Trump’s defense argues that no lender lost money due to his financial statements. In depositions, Deutsche Bank employees testified to profiting from loans to the Trump Organization.
The Size of Trump Tower
Jeffrey McConney and other witnesses have testified about the discrepancies in the Trump Organization’s asset valuations, highlighting inflated values and unverified figures.
Donald Bender, Trump’s long-time accountant, testified about preparing Trump’s financial statements without verifying the figures, adding to the mounting evidence against Trump.
The defense points to a warning on Trump’s financial statements indicating non-verification of figures, suggesting that banks and insurers shouldn’t have relied on them.
In a notable example, Trump’s Trump Tower apartment’s size has been a point of contention, with the former president providing fluctuating figures over the years.
What Lies Ahead
Beyond this, Trump faces four upcoming criminal trials on various charges, from trying to block the 2020 election results to possessing classified documents.
The aggressive nature of these cases against Trump can bolster his narrative of persecution, potentially strengthening his position among his base. However, the same could alienate some swing voters, impacting his political aspirations.
The trial promises to unearth more about Trump’s business practices, including potential reasons for the fluctuating value of his properties.
As Trump remains a significant political figure, the outcome of these cases could influence public opinion, potentially overshadowing other Republican nominees.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Allison Peltzman