New York Attorney General Letitia James is pursuing the fraud case against Donald Trump and has made massive amounts of information — about Donald Trump’s financials and the Trump Organization’s business — available to the public.
Over 1,500 documents filed in the case are available online. Some documents include information, not previously reported, about the structure of Donald Trump’s most important business entity, the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust.
When Trump became president he announced that he was stepping down as trustee and making Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Org. CFO Allen Weisselberg the trustees of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, the entity at the top of the Trump organizational chart.
A review of exhibits in the case reveals new information, including a reference to the creation of a Presidential Trust on January 17, 2017 and the creation of an HWA LP Subtrust related to Trump’s Hudson Waterfront properties in New York City.
People of the State of New York, by Attorney General Letitia James vs Trump et al.
On September 21, 2022 New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a lawsuit against Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, senior management (including his three oldest children) and related companies for “engaging in years of financial fraud to obtain a host of economic benefits.”
Last October I published this Overview of NY Attorney General vs Trump Financial Fraud Complaint and Trump Assets as of June 30, 2021.
In June, a New York appeals court dismissed the claims against Ivanka Trump, ruling that the state’s statute of limitations barred them. The trial began this month.
The deluge of Trump lawsuits, indictments and 90+ felony charges
There are so many overlapping lawsuits on top of the NYAG fraud case that it’s hard to keep track of them all — including the 40 felony counts against Trump in the Justice Department Mar-a-Lago classified documents indictment, 4 felony counts against Trump in the Justice Department indictment related to the January 6th insurrection, the 13 felony charges in the Fulton County (Georgia) DA indictment for racketeering and conspiracy related to the 2020 election, and 34 felony counts in the Manhattan DA indictment for falsifying business records related to hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.
As the New York Attorney General fraud case plays out in court, it is revealing new information, and potentially new crimes. Dan Alexander at Forbes recently reported how Trump’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, lied under oath in testimony about Trump’s penthouse Trump Tower apartment.
Much of the trial coverage has focused on gag orders to limit the damage caused by Trump’s media circus. The judge in the D.C. case temporarily lifted a narrow gag order against Trump. The New York fraud case judge fined Trump $5,000 for violating the gag order, and issued a warning that future violations could lead to more severe sanctions including imprisonment.
Public documentation on Trump’s financial and business records
Beyond the constant distraction of Trump’s media-outrage-spin-machine, the New York Attorney General fraud trial has quietly provided an immense amount of information about Trump’s business and financial records for anyone in the public to review.
I skimmed through several hundred filings and found a group of exhibits that include a series of documents signed by Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Allen Weisselberg, related to the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, and the change in trustees when Trump started and ended his presidency.
The exhibits do not include all of the Trust filings and, in one case, they include only the first and last page of a 46-page document. However some documents reference information not yet reported elsewhere, including creation of a ‘Presidential Trust’ on January 17, 2017.
The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust
On January 11, 2017, Donald Trump held a news conference with a table full of stacked prop folders, and he said he would give up legal control of his companies.
The New York Times reported on how Trump was still closely tied to his companies after he became president.
While the president says he has walked away from the day-to-day operations of his business, two people close to him are the named trustees and have broad legal authority over his assets: his eldest son, Donald Jr., and Allen H. Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer. Mr. Trump, who will receive reports on any profit, or loss, on his company as a whole, can revoke their authority at any time…What’s more, the purpose of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust is to hold assets for the “exclusive benefit” of the president. This trust remains under Mr. Trump’s Social Security number, at least as far as federal taxes are concerned.
Fraud trial exhibits include Trump Trust filings
As part of the New York Attorney General fraud trial there are currently over 1,500 documents now available to the public that include court filings made by the plaintiff and the defendants, Trump’s statements of financial position from 2011 to 2021, Deutsche Bank and Ladder Capital loan documents, internal emails, and more.
The 1,500+ filings in the case are available here in the New York State Court Electronic Filing system.
Assistant Attorney General Colleen Faherty filed Exhibits #398-406, which include some of the Trust filings made by Trump, Don Jr. and Weisselberg.
Trump trust documents reference a ‘Presidential Trust’ created January 17, 2017
The Faherty Affirmation Exhibit #404 filed on 8/30/2023 includes an ‘Amendment to Agreement of Trust’ dated January 19, 2021. The amendment references some earlier information, including that on January 17, 2017 the Settlor (Donald Trump) created the ‘Presidential Trust’.
WHEREAS, on January 17, 2017, Settlor amended said Agreement of Trust in part, creating the Presidential Trust to be governed by the provisions of Article FIRST-A of said Agreement of Trust and appointing Settlor’s son, Donald J. Trump, Jr., as Trustee of the Presidential Trust and Allen Weisselberg as Business Trustee of the Presidential Trust, but reserving his right to amend or revoke said Agreement of Trust (other than the Presidential Trust under Article FIRST-A of said Agreement of Trust) under subparagraph (1) of Paragraph B of Article SECOND of said Agreement of Trust;
The section below related to Trump’s Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg differentiates the Presidential Trust from other trusts.
WHEREAS, pursuant to Article TWENTIETH of said Agreement of Trust, if for any reason Settlor shall cease to serve as Trustee, Allen Weisselberg shall become Trustee of each trust under said Agreement of Trust, other than of the Presidential Trust and any trust created thereunder, and each of Settlor’ s wife, Melania Trump, and children Donald J. Trump, Jr., lvanka M. Trump, and Eric F. Trump, shall become Special Trustees of each such trust;
Section “B. Disposition of Trust Property During Presidency” references the Presidential Trust.
Until I permanently cease to serve as President of the United States of America, Trustees shall pay such part or all of the net income and/or principal of the trust for my exclusive benefit as set forth in the Presidential Trust under Article FIRST-A hereof.
Section “D. Termination and Disposition of Trust Property” notes that all remaining property would be transferred to the trustees of the ‘Revocable Trust’.
Upon termination, all remaining property shall be transferred by my Trustees to the Trustees of my Revocable Trust to be administered and distributed pursuant to the provisions of Article SECOND hereof or as I may otherwise direct by written instrument of revocation that has been signed and acknowledged by me.
It is not clear if the amendment to create the Presidential Trust is a minor item, perhaps creating a different name that was used interchangeably with the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust during the period when there was a change in trustees. However, it adds a new detail to what is known about the trust.
Trust documents reference creation of ‘HWA LP Subtrust’ on May 11, 2017
Another item not previously reported is that Exhibit #404 mentions creation of the HWA LP Subtrust on May 11, 2017.
May 11, 2017, amended said Agreement of Trust, creating the HWA LP Subtrust to be governed by the provisions of Articles FIRST-A and FIRST-B of said Agreement of Trust, but reserving Settlor’s right to amend or revoke said Agreement of Trust (other than the Presidential Trust and the HWA LP Subtrust under Articles FIRST-A and FIRST-B of said Agreement of Trust) under subparagraph (1) of Paragraph B of Article SECOND of said Agreement of Trust;
Another filing, the Faherty Affirmation Exhibit #399, shows a document called The Trump Organization Internal Restructuring. The last page has a section ‘PART IX: Hudson Waterfront Documents (May 2017)’ that mentions the HWA LP Subtrust related to four Hudson Waterfront Associates entities.
The Hudson Waterfront Associates entities are related to property developed by Trump on the West Side in New York City. According to Trump’s April 2023 OGE financial disclosure the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust has 30% ownership in four Hudson Waterfront Associates companies and, as the Washington Post reported, Trump earned $199 million in these four partnerships.
Faherty Affirmation Exhibits
Following are links to the NYAG fraud trial exhibits dated 8/30/2023 related to the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust:
- Exhibit #398 The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust – signed April 7, 2014 (3 pages, 1 and 46)
- Exhibit #399 The Trump Organization – Internal Restructuring – Closing Dates: December 31, 2016, January 1, 2017, January 19, 2017 (35 pages)
- Exhibit #400 The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust – Resignation of Trustee – January 19, 2017 (1 page)
- Exhibit #401 The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust – Acceptance of Donald J. Trump, Jr. as Trustee – January 19, 2017 (1page) – references Second Amendment dated January 17
- Exhibit #402 The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust – Acceptance of Allen Weisselberg as Business Trustee – January 19, 2017 (1 page)
- Exhibit #403 The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust – Removal of Trustee – Allen Weisselberg effective 12:00pm ET January 20, 2021 – References amendments dated – January 11, 2017, January 17, 2017, May 12, 2017, August 29, 2019, November 10, 2020 and January 5, 2021. (4 pages)
- Exhibit #404 Amendment to Agreement of Trust – dated January 19, 2021 – Mentions Presidential Trust and creation of HWA LP Subtrust on page 5 (9 pages)
- Exhibit #405 Certificate of Trust – April 7, 2021 (1 page)
- Exhibit #406 The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust – Removal of Trustee – Donald J. Trump – effective 2:30pmET July 7, 2021, Appointment of Donald J. Trump Jr. as Trustee – effective 2:30pmET July 7, 2021 (7 pages)
It is not clear what the references to the Presidential Trust in these documents signifies without seeing all of the Trust filings. But the exhibits are worth further scrutiny; the Donald J. Trust Revocable Trust is at the top of Trump’s organizational structure. And the recent partial summary judgment by Judge Engoren stated that Trump and several associates committed fraud under the umbrella of the DJT Revocable Trust.
The 1,500+ filings in the case available here include thousands upon thousands of pages that shed new light on Trump’s businesses since 2011. While there are several great reporters covering the NYAG fraud trial and reporting on Trump’s financials, there is much more that journalists and open source researchers can explore and reveal — especially while Trump remains the confounding GOP front-runner.