New York Trump investigation looks at $280m in loans – report

By Edward Helmore

While there was good news for Donald Trump in Washington on Saturday, as his second impeachment trial ended in acquittal, troubling news came out of his native New York.

The Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors in the city are investigating about $280m in loans to the Trump Organization, related to four buildings in Manhattan: Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue; a skyscraper at 40 Wall St; a hotel and residential building on Columbus Circle near Central Park; and an apartment building on the Upper East Side.

The investigations appear to be an extension of a previously acknowledged move by Manhattan’s Democratic district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr, over what prosecutors have called “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization”.

Trump has described the New York investigation, triggered by an alleged $130,000 hush-money payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels over an alleged sexual liaison, as “a continuation of the worst witch-hunt in American history”.

Investigators, the Journal reported, could be looking for disparities between loan documents and declared insurance valuations or tax returns.

Trump took out $100m against Trump Tower in 2012, the Journal said, adding that in the next three years he took out $15m against Trump Plaza, the upper east side property; $160m against 40 Wall St; and $7m against Trump International Hotel and Tower on Central Park South.

The Journal reported that the loans were advanced by subsidiaries of Ladder Capital, a real-estate investment trust which employs Jack Weisselberg, son of Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg. Neither has been accused of wrongdoing. In 2018, the older Weisselberg was granted immunity to testify in the hush money investigation.

By avoiding conviction in his second impeachment trial, Trump remained free to run for office again. But without the protections of office, he is vulnerable to prosecution. The New York state attorney general is also investigating the Trump Organization.

The Journal reported that the Trump Tower loan will come due in 2022 and others are due in the next several years. The Manhattan district attorney did not confirm any expansion of the investigation to the Journal.