New York prosecutors on Thursday conducted an hour-long interview with Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former attorney, and asked a series of questions about the president’s business dealings, according to three people familiar with the meeting.
The interview focused in part on Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, his largest and longest-standing creditor, according to people who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The interview, at least the second with Cohen by the Manhattan District Attorney, takes place amid the grand jury’s longstanding investigation into Trump’s business relationships.
District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has been fighting a lengthy legal battle to gain access to the President’s tax records. The US Supreme Court is expected to rule on Trump’s suspension motion and further appeal after he resigned on Jan. 20.
The New York investigation is one of several legal entanglements that are likely to worsen if Trump loses power – and any immunity from law enforcement he might have as a sitting president.
The Manhattan-based grand jury has continued its work despite the coronavirus pandemic that has restricted many legal proceedings.
The Republican president is also facing a civil investigation, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, into whether his company lied about the value of its assets for credit or tax breaks.
Cohen is also cooperating with this investigation. He previously told Congress Trump that he had often increased the value of his assets when dealing with lenders or potential partners, but emptied them when it had benefited him for tax purposes.
The White House declined to comment. A message was sent to Cohen’s attorney for comment.
Trump has repeatedly referred to the Vance and James investigations as unsubstantiated political “witch hunts”.
Vance, a Democrat, has refused to provide details of the investigation. However, court records have pointed to news reports that prosecutors have labeled “extensive and protracted criminal conduct in the Trump organization.”
Among the reports that Vance’s office referred to in court records was a 2017 article about Ladder Capital, a commercial mortgage lender that provided the Trump Organization with more than $ 250 million in loans through Trump real estate were secured.
Jack Weisselberg, son of Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, is a director of Ladder Capital.
The subpoenas issued in the investigation concern eleven companies that do business as far as Europe and Dubai, according to an appellate judge who spoke at a hearing.
Cohen, who is serving the remainder of a federal sentence, has been asked by investigators to review the Trump Organization’s documents and provide more details about its corporate structure, according to people familiar with the matter.
Cohen pleaded guilty to evading taxes, lying to Congress and facilitating crimes in campaign funding.
Deutsche Bank continued to do business with Trump even after he defaulted on a loan for his Chicago hotel and condominium development in 2008 and sued the bank and others he held responsible for his inability to repay.
However, Deutsche Bank’s private banking division continued to lend Trump, including $ 125 million to finance the purchase and renovation of his Doral golf resort in 2012, as previously announced.