As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Donald Trump is currently in what the legal profession defines as “a world of pain.” In addition to a congressional investigation into his actions before, during, and after January 6, which could lead to a criminal referral to the Justice Department, the former president is the subject of no fewer than four criminal and civil investigations by prosecutors across the country. This includes Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis, whose request to convene a grand jury to probe Trump’s attempts to overturn the election in Georgia was recently approved; Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, who inherited an investigation from his predecessor into Trump’s business practices that resulted in the Trump Organization and its CFO being charged with multiple felonies last summer (they pleaded not guilty); and New York attorney general Letitia James, who has been on Trump’s tail for more than two years, and who recently said she had uncovered “significant evidence” of fraud at the Trump family business. None of this is particularly good news—in fact, some might say it is very bad news—and it’s now been compounded by the fact that the ex-president’s longtime accountants just threw him under the bus.
The New York Times reports that Mazars USA, which has done business with Trump for years, “cut ties” with the Trump Organization last week “amid ongoing criminal and civil investigations into whether Mr. Trump illegally inflated the value of his assets.” In a letter sent to the company dated February 9, Mazars informed the Trump Organization of its decision, and further noted that it could no longer in good conscience vouch for the years of financial statements it prepared for the business. While the memo said the firm had not “as a whole” discovered meaningful discrepancies between the information the Trump Organization had given it and the real, actual value of its assets, it said that given “the totality of circumstances,” anyone who had received the statements should assume they are bullshit. Said statements play a major role in both Bragg’s and James’s investigations, which are looking into the allegations that Trump inflated the value of his assets when applying for loans and deflated them when it came to paying taxes.
The Mazars letter was included in new documents filed in court by James’s office on Monday, which is presently attempting to get the ex-president and his two eldest children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, to answer questions under oath. Thus far the family has insisted they have no reason to sit for depositions, while the Attorney General’s office has said that, in fact, “No one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them.” Given that the trio was “closely involved in the transactions in question,” they have no leg to stand on. At a rally in January, Trump attacked James, Bragg, and Willis without referring to them by name. Trump said the three prosecutors are “vicious, horrible people, they’re racists and they’re very sick, they’re mentally sick.” He also called for “the biggest protest we have ever had in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta, and elsewhere” if “these radical racist vicious prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal.”
In a statement, the Trump Organization told the Times it was disappointed with Mazars’s decision, but somehow saw the letter as confirmation that the firm’s “work was performed in accordance with all applicable accounting standards and principles and that such statements of financial condition do not contain any material discrepancies.”
While the Times notes that the financial statements compiled by Mazars already carried “a number of disclaimers, including acknowledgments that Mr. Trump’s accountants had neither audited nor authenticated his claims,” and that Mazars did “not express an opinion or provide any assurance about” the statements, there is no universe in which the change of heart by the accounting firm can be regarded as anything other than not good for Trump and company.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers would likely argue that his lenders, sophisticated financial institutions like Deutsche Bank, would not have relied on the statements when providing him loans. Still, in her court filing last month, Ms. James highlighted potential misleading statements about the value of at least six Trump properties, including golf clubs in Westchester County, N.Y., and Scotland, as well as Mr. Trump’s own penthouse home in Trump Tower.
Both the civil and criminal investigations have examined the underlying information the Trump Organization provided Mazars as the accountants compiled the annual financial statements. Often, Mr. Trump’s company would estimate the value of its properties based on recent selling prices of comparable buildings, a common real estate valuation method. The authorities have zeroed in on whether the company cherry-picked favorable information to essentially mislead Mazars into presenting an overly rosy picture of Mr. Trump’s finances.
Anyway, yeah, we’d like to see Trump spin the news that his accountants basically put “don’t trust anything this guy says” on their official company letterhead. He will, of course, but we can’t wait to see it.