Testimony by a former Trump Organization accountant on Tuesday revealed that Ivanka Trump's Park Avenue penthouse was valued significantly higher on financial documents than the purchase value on her lease--but does it really mean fraud was being committed?
Donald Bender of the accounting firm Mazars USA testified that Trump Organization 2011-2012 financial documents valued Ivanka's penthouse at $20.8 million when her lease named a purchase price of only $8.5 million, the New York Post reported.
But here's the thing: that testimony doesn't really say anything about fraud, and here's why.
First of all, the lease stated clearly that if Ivanka wanted to purchase the penthouse, she would be doing so at “substantially below the market rent for similar units in the building."
That means the $8.5 million is not an accurate market value. For all anyone knows, the value could have been $20.8 million. At the very least, it was a lot closer to that number than Letitia James would like you to believe.
Second, Ivanka didn't actually own the penthouse, so how was it being used as collateral on a loan anyway?
Just because this penthouse was listed on a financial document doesn't mean it had really anything to do with the loan Trump might have been trying to get. Loan applications want all kinds of information, such as whether relevant parties are leasing their homes or own them.
Hopefully, Trump's lawyers are pointing these things out to the Judge so he sees how ridiculous the case is and that it doesn't even matter whether the value of a penthouse Ivanka didn't even own was elevated or not.
There had been speculation that Ivanka was going to testify against her father and the Trump Organization when she was removed as a co-defendant and put on the trial's witness list, but that turns out to have been unfounded.
The Post said on Tuesday that she was removed as a co-defendant because the statue of limitations had expired for her. She stepped away from the Trump Organization to be involved in her father's presidential campaign and in the administration, so she had less recent involvement in the company than her father and brothers, who are still co-defendants.
A previous report in Newsweek suggested that Ivanka might be cooperating with prosecutors and that was why she was removed as a co-defendant.
This now seems to be untrue, and it is likely that Ivanka will take the Fifth Amendment if she does testify, or might be a hostile witness unwilling to help the prosecution go after her family.
Ivanka might have distanced herself from her father recently, but she has not cut ties with him or her family, and there's no way she would help Letitia James take $250 million from them under false pretenses.