The New York Attorney General’s Office has subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank after testimony from Michael Cohen before Congress alleged that President Donald Trump mislead those institutions on the value of his assets to obtain financing.
New York Attorney General Letitia James confirmed the subpoenas in a conversation with reporters in Albany on Monday.
“I can confirm that, in fact, two civil subpoenas have been issued to Deutsche Bank and to Investors Bank and that’s all that I can say at this point in time,” James said.
The investigation, as of now, appears to be one that would result in civil litigation rather than criminal charges if anything’s found, since the state attorney general’s office is limited from prosecuting individuals in most cases without a referral from another state agency.
The request is in response to testimony from Cohen, the president’s former personal attorney, who claimed Trump mischaracterized his assets while trying to finance a purchase of the Buffalo Bills NFL football team and four Trump Organization projects, according to an initial report in The New York Times. James confirmed that Cohen’s testimony spurred the inquiries.
“In the testimony of Mr. Cohen he indicated that, in fact, funds were used to attempt to purchase the Buffalo Bills and so, the testimony of Mr. Cohen was the impetus of issuing these civil subpoenas,” James said.
It’s the second set of reported subpoenas from the state in recent weeks after Cohen’s testimony before Congress in late February. The New York Department of Financial Services, which regulates the state’s banks and insurance companies, issued a subpoena to the insurance broker for the Trump Organization last week after Cohen said Trump had misled insurance companies about the value of his assets as well.
It’s possible that the investigation launched by DFS last week could result in the referral of a criminal probe to the attorney general’s office, which could then prosecute the case. That likely wouldn’t happen immediately, though the insurance broker subpoenaed by the agency said it plans to cooperate with the request rather than try to quash it.
The subpoenas issued to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank on Monday would likely result in civil litigation if anything tangible comes of the request. That litigation could seek to target Trump, the financial institutions, or any of those parties based on the nature of the probe.
The attorney general’s office can independently bring criminal charges in some cases under the Martin Act, though that state law mainly targets instances of securities fraud. The exact scope of the subpoenas to both financial institutions was unclear, and James declined to provide details on those requests.
Deutsche Bank was subpoenaed to provide records relating to the financing of Trump International Hotel in Washington, the Trump National Doral outside Miami, and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, the Times said. Investors Bank was asked to provide records related to Trump Park Avenue, which it had financed.
The request to Deutsche Bank also asked for records related to a bid by Trump to purchase the Buffalo Bills, according to the Times. He didn’t end up buying the team.
Representatives for Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank did not immediately respond to a request to confirm and comment on the subpoenas.
If the requests result in any type of litigation, it would only add to the state’s extensive caseload against Trump and the federal government. The New York Attorney General’s Office, namely, has ongoing litigation against Trump and his children over the Trump Foundation, the president’s former charitable organization.
That litigation has sought to temporarily ban Trump and his children from serving on the board of a nonprofit after staff from the foundation allegedly colluded with the president’s 2016 presidential campaign on a quasi-political fundraiser for veterans groups. The litigation also seeks $2.8 million in restitution over the event.
The suit also alleges that Trump used the foundation to finance a series of self-dealing transactions, though attorneys for the foundation have said that money was either mistakenly paid out or reimbursed immediately.
The state Department of Taxation and Finance also has two separate criminal probes into Trump and the foundation, though neither have resulted in additional litigation.
The first, revealed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year, is looking at whether anyone at the Trump Foundation should face criminal charges over the misconduct alleged by the attorney general’s lawsuit. The second has sought to investigate claims of tax fraud alleged against Trump in a New York Times article earlier this year. Neither has resulted in criminal charges from the attorney general’s office.
James, who took office in January, focused her campaign last year on a promise to continue any, and all, litigation against Trump, his family, and his business dealings. At a recent event, she said the office has brought more than 200 legal actions related to Trump or the federal government since he took office in 2017.