Abraham Lincoln said, “you cannot keep a catalogue of your lies.” Which is sad, and we mean that strongly, because Donald Trump needs one. He just blew it bigly in the New York case. Oh, Mamma, did he blow it. Insider is running a story entitled “In April Trump said his private-jet LLC was worth no more than $1,001. Then in July he said it was worth $25 million. Why?
Why? I would guess because it’s because he’s always had a double set of books, one that he shows lenders or prospective lenders and another that he shows Uncle Sam and n’er shall the twain meet — just ask his accountant, who went to prison. Then the story goes to bullet points and here those are. I daresay Leticia James is falling off her chair reading this.
- Revised Trump ethics filings show massive shifts in the value of some Trump entities.
- Trump claims to own $2.8 million in Ethereum cryptocurrency and $100,000 to $250,000 in gold bars.
- Trump did not break out earnings on deals for trademarks he’s registered in Iran, China, Ukraine, and other foreign countries.
His assets are divided among a web of interlocking LLCs. Their stated value fluctuates wildly, rising when the Trump Organization approaches banks to seek credit, and then declining when it’s time to pay taxes. Letitia James, the New York State attorney general, has alleged that Trump’s creative approach to bookkeeping amounts to fraud. But that doesn’t seem to have convinced Trump that he needs to stick with one set of numbers.
Two sets of Trump’s 2023 financial disclosures show vastly different valuations for a number of Trump entities. The first disclosure, filed in April, was Trump’s required filing as a presidential candidate. The second one, in July, revised the statements made by the first.
The most extreme example is TAG Air, Inc. The company is one of a number of Trump entities associated with the former president’s Boeing 757-200. In an April filing with the Office of Government Ethics, Trump claimed that the TAG Air had a value of $1,001 or less. Then, in a revised July filing, Trump valued TAG Air at between $5 million and $25 million.
Time out. There is no way in hell that a jet airplane is worth a thousand dollars — or less. I have a 20-year-old Honda in the garage that’s worth a hell of a lot more than that. The initial figure is insulting and I’m frankly amazed an accountant or even a bookkeeper would have entered it in a ledger. But that said, this is the man whose Truth Social auditor abruptly quit one day, leaving Digital World Acquisition Company in one hell of a fix and it was probably due to nonsense like this.
I can believe the plane would be worth $5 million. Perhaps it is in fact worth $25 million. We’re talking a Boeing 757, here, not a small Cessna, or even a Lear jet. But one thousand bucks? Or less? If I was an auditor working for Trump, I’d quit on the spot, too, looking at numbers like this. And may I just drop into the conversation the fact that Mar-a-Lago was recently “sold” to Trump Jr. for $425,000,000? Just saying.
In the mere three months that elapsed between the two disclosures, Trump’s estimate of TAG Air’s value jumped by a factor of 5,000 or more. It’s unclear what prompted Trump’s accountants to make such a drastic change. Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Trump’s campaign, did not respond to a request for comment.
I’ll bet he didn’t and I’ll bet he won’t.
During the 2016 campaign, taxpayers reportedly paid TAG Air $1.6 million to cover the cost of transporting the Secret Service agents charged with protecting him. A person who has dealt with Trump in the past told Insider that the changing valuation could be driven by worries that James’s New York case could use the old forms, with the lower figures, as evidence in her case. “Trump has always played fast and loose with numbers,” they said. “Now that sloppiness is coming to an end. All of a sudden, because of litigation and discovery, he has to provide accurate information.”
And it’s not just his aeroplanes that are suddenly worth a fortune, my heavens, no. Now his property in Ireland has also jumped 1000%. Damn. I wish I could wake up one morning and everything I own is worth 1000% more than it was last night. I’d charter Trump Force One (well maybe not that plane, but something similar) and we’d all go party on an island.
Trump’s TIGL Ireland Management Limited soared from an initial value of $1,001 or less to a range of $1 million to $5 million. The company manages Trump’s hotel and golf course in Ireland and sent the Secret Service a bill for then-Vice President Mike Pence’s 2019 visit to Ireland. Briarcliff Manor Development LLC, a company that has come under direct scrutiny by Attorney General James, saw the same movement between valuation ranges, showing an apparent gain of one thousand times or more.
Ethics lawyer Richard Painter raises an interesting point.
“We have no idea what’s going on,” said Painter, who has testified before Congress on the need for a bigger window into candidates’ finances. “We shouldn’t have to guess. If you have someone who is running for president and they have an LLC, we should know what’s in it, what it owes, and where its revenue is coming from. If the LLC has debt, are they borrowing from Chase Manhattan Bank, or are they borrowing from the Russians? We don’t know, and we ought to know.”
Are they borrowing from Chase Manhattan Bank or the Russians? This is a question that might have been posed by a character in a political satire but prior to Donald Trump, it was never seriously posed in print, let alone by a former White House ethics lawyer, and during a GOP primary. We do live in amazing times, where fiction only wishes it could be half as strange and interesting as truth. Poor Fiction. She used to be so exciting and wondrous, and now Truth makes her look like a dowager.
And as to Trump suing the judge in the New York fraud case, here’s the gist of that. Daily Beast:
Thursday’s court filing claims Engoron and James are both acting to defy appellate orders that could narrow the AG’s behemoth bank fraud lawsuit, putting the judge in the awkward position of having to use lawyers to defend himself alongside the AG. He is expected to be represented by the local court administration’s own lawyers.
Trump’s legal team says Engoron is overstepping his authority, and they want an appellate judge to put him in his place. It’s the latest escalation against the trial court judge, who has increasingly grown tired of their delay antics.
This summer, a state appellate court ordered Engoron to figure out which real estate deals by the Trump Organization are too old for the AG to examine for potential bank and insurance fraud. The judge has yet to draw a cutoff, even though he is expected to do so in the coming days.
But Team Trump can’t wait, and they’re itching to use this as a method to push back the trial. When they requested a three-week delay, Engoron immediately shot that down.
In Thursday’s court filing, the Trump lawyers complained about the way Engoron was “terse” in his curt, nine-word order in which he simply wrote, “Decline to sign; Defendants’ arguments are completely without merit.”
They argued that the judge’s “summary rejection… demonstrates he has no intent to do so and deems the notion that he is bound by this court’s mandate to be ‘completely without merit,’” framing Engoron’s decision as an act of defiance.
For the moment things are delayed. The good news about a move like this if that if a party to a lawsuit is given the benefit of every single procedural move in the book, then that party cannot come back later and sue for mistrial on the basis of some form of due process being denied. So this is far from a time to panic.
And Trump has four trials, a veritable conga line, starting in October, going through March, and don’t forget the second E. Jean Carroll trial, that’s in there as well.
And of course the truly wild aspect of this, is that these trials comprise Trump’s entire campaign. No policies, no promises (other than revenge) no nothing, other than persecution and it’s Trumpian corollary, grift.