Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Something to Know - 24 October

One last thing before I leave town.  Courtesy from Matt Cartmill - Pomona Class of 1964, and Boston College Professor of Anthropology:

Following today's sensational announcement that the U.S. government is building a "big, beautiful" wall in Colorado to keep the Mexicans out, President Trump further amazed political observers by revealing that he has ordered the U. S. Geological Survey to begin expunging Spanish place names from the American map.  Initial substitutes for deleted names include the Sawtooth Mountains, the states of Red-Colored and Snowy, and a large number of Western cities including The Angels, The Meadows, Saint Louie the Bishop, Fatfort, and Seen Saw.  "I don't know who is responsible for this stuff," declared the President, "but I do know the Democrats are going to oppose me every step of the way on this, because they hate our country.  And what's with this 'New Mexico,' anyway?  Not on my watch, we're not going to start any new Mexico in this country.  I'm signing a Presidential order tomorrow morning to annex the place to Texas.  I can do that, you know."


Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

- Kris Kristofferson

Monday, October 21, 2019

Sharpie's chief of staff (MIck Mulvaney) throws out insults as he attempts to make us believe that he did not say what he previously said.  He would just have us believe that he and Donnie can just throw their swampy crap under the rug and that we should just get over it.

No, We Won't Just 'Get Over It'

We dare not fail this test of our constitutional government.

Charles M. Blow


Opinion Columnist

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.CreditCreditLeigh Vogel for The New York Times
For weeks Donald Trump and his defenders have insisted that his decision to hold up aid to Ukraine was not dependent on that nation investigating Trump's political opponents in the United States. They all insisted that there was no quid pro quo.
But, last week the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, lifted the veil on that lie, confirming during a televised briefing that there was indeed a quid pro quo. As The New York Times reported, "Mr. Mulvaney told journalists … that the aid was withheld in part until Ukraine investigated an unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for hacking Democratic Party emails in 2016 — a theory that would show that Mr. Trump was elected without Russian help."
Since making this shocking statement, Mulvaney has been struggling to clean it up, to tell the world that he didn't say what he clearly said.
And, in the moment of making the statement, Mulvaney proudly proclaimed: "I have news for everybody: Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy."

No, Trump world, we are not just going to get over it, not now or ever.
Trump's strategy is simple: Be brazen. Conduct your corruption in plain sight. And, it follows a simple logic: If it were wrong, I would be ashamed of it and attempt to conceal it. The fact that I haven't attempted to shroud it is proof of its virtue.
That is what's maddening about the Trump presidency: how much harm has been done as America looked on, with full awareness of the damage, and Trump has yet to be held accountable for any of it.
But that time is drawing to an end.
Wrong is wrong, whether you parade it or put it away. In fact, it is the flaunting of wrongdoing that should carry more of a penalty, not less of one. We can't allow our numbness to make this normal. It isn't.
This impeachment inquiry is the best thing Congress has done to help the country in years. Some worry that an impeachment would tear the country apart. To the contrary, I believe that it will bring the country together. A majority of Americans will recognize and rally around a common set of facts, a common truth, and reject Trump's attempt to bend reality.
A Pew Research Poll released last week found that 58 percent of Americans, including a quarter of Republicans, believe that Trump has done things that are grounds for impeachment.

No matter how much he says that the call he made to the president of Ukraine was perfect, no matter how much he attacks the whistle-blower, no matter how much he lies, most Americans see through it and are appalled by it.
And now that Mulvaney has made the disastrous mistake of actually telling the truth, some Republicans are even signaling that they are open to at least entertaining a vote to impeach the president.
This is another step that is important to the repairing of the country. It's not that I believe that the Senate would be in any danger of actually voting to convict and remove Trump. It's that we need to know that at least some of these Republican men and women who make our laws are not totally craven and devoid of morality.
And, Republicans and independents need to know that holding Trump accountable is not a sour grapes pursuit to relitigate 2016, or born out of maddening personal hatred of the man himself.
This is far bigger than all that. Trump is a stress test on our system and constitutional government and we dare not fail. Trump must be held accountable not only because his corruption dictates it, but also because we must demonstrate that accountability is possible.
If Americans chose to just "get over it" as Mulvaney demanded, the power of the president to degrade, corrupt and evade the system would be enshrined. Trumpism would  mar the future.
That can't happen. Trump wrongdoing in the Ukraine case is clear. (I would argue that it's clear in other areas as well.)

Republican Congressman Francis Rooney of Florida made it clear that he's not ruling out the possibility of supporting impeachment. Sunday on CNN he told Jake Tapper that Mulvaney's attempt to walk back his admission was a farce, saying: "I don't see how you walk back something that's clear. I would say game, set, match on that."
And, as The Washington Post reported:
"Rooney told reporters Friday when asked about the political consequences of potentially impeaching Trump that he wanted 'to get the facts and do the right thing because I'll be looking at my children a lot longer than I'm looking to anybody in this building.' "
Each of us will have to look at our children, to look at ourselves in the mirror and be held accountable for how we responded to the threat Trump poses.
As the late Elijah Cummings put it:
"When we're dancing with the angels, the question will be asked: In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?"


Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

- Kris Kristofferson

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Something to Know - 19 October

Either our Constitution is going to go over the cliff, or the Republicans, courtesy of Individual 1 (Sharpie), will beat them to it.  The question is -  when is that event happening?

The Crisis of the Republican Party

The G.O.P. will not be able to postpone a reckoning on Donald Trump's presidency for much longer.


The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

In the summer of 1950, outraged by Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist inquisition, Margaret Chase Smith, a Republican senator from Maine, stood to warn her party that its own behavior was threatening the integrity of the American republic. "I don't want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the four horsemen of calumny — fear, ignorance, bigotry and smear," she said. "I doubt if the Republican Party could — simply because I don't believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest. Surely, we Republicans aren't that desperate for victory."

Senator Smith surely knew her "Declaration of Conscience" would not carry the day. Her appeal to the better angels of her party was not made in the expectation of an immediate change; sometimes the point is just to get people to look up. In the end, four more years passed before the bulk of the Republican Party looked up and turned on Senator McCarthy — four years of public show trials and thought policing that pushed the country so hard to the right that the effects lasted decades. The problem with politicians who abuse power isn't that they don't get results. It's that the results come at a high cost to the Republic — and to the reputations of those who lack the courage or wisdom to resist.

The Republican Party is again confronting a crisis of conscience, one that has been gathering force ever since Donald Trump captured the party's nomination in 2016. Afraid of his political influence, and delighted with his largely conservative agenda, party leaders have compromised again and again, swallowing their criticisms and tacitly if not openly endorsing presidential behavior they would have excoriated in a Democrat. Compromise by compromise, Donald Trump has hammered away at what Republicans once saw as foundational virtues: decency, honesty, responsibility. He has asked them to substitute loyalty to him for their patriotism itself.

Mr. Trump privately pressed Ukraine to serve his political interests by investigating a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as by looking into a long-debunked conspiracy theory about Democratic National Committee emails that were stolen by the Russians. Mr. Trump publicly made a similar request of China. His chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said publicly on Thursday that the administration threatened to withhold military aid from Ukraine if it did not help "find" the D.N.C. servers.

These attempts to enlist foreign interference in American electoral democracy are an assault not only on our system of government but also on the integrity of the Republican Party. Republicans need to emulate the moral clarity of Margaret Chase Smith and recognize that they have a particular responsibility to condemn the president's behavior and to reject his tactics.

Some have already done so. On Friday, John Kasich, the former Ohio governor, said that Mr. Mulvaney's comments convinced him that the impeachment inquiry should move forward. Representative Justin Amash of Michigan had already called for impeachment, though he felt it necessary to leave the party as a consequence.

There was a time when Republicans like Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said that soliciting foreign election assistance would be improper. But most congressional Republicans have taken to avoiding such questions as the evidence against Mr. Trump has piled up. Mr. Trump still feels so well-protected by his party that he has just named his own golf resort as the site for the next Group of 7 summit in 2020, a brazen act of self-dealing.

Yet Republicans will not be able to postpone a reckoning with Trumpism for much longer. The investigation by House Democrats appears likely to result in a vote for impeachment, despite efforts by the White House to obstruct the inquiry. That will force Senate Republicans to choose. Will they commit themselves and their party wholly to Mr. Trump, embracing even his most anti-democratic actions, or will they take the first step toward separating themselves from him and restoring confidence in the rule of law?

Thus far in office, Mr. Trump has acted against the national interest by maintaining his financial interests in his company and using the presidential podium to promote it; obstructed legitimate investigations into his conduct by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and Congress; attacked the free press; given encouragement to white nationalists; established a de facto religious test for immigrants; undermined foreign alliances and emboldened American rivals; demanded personal loyalty from subordinates sworn to do their duty to the Constitution; and sent his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, around the world to conduct what could most charitably be described as shadow foreign policy with Mr. Trump's personal benefit as its lodestar.

Some Republicans have clearly believed that they could control the president by staying close to him and talking him out of his worst ideas. Ask Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — who has spent the last two years prostrating himself before Mr. Trump in the hope of achieving his political goals, including protecting the Kurds — how that worked out. Mr. Graham isn't alone, of course; there is a long list of politicians who have debased themselves to please Mr. Trump, only to be abandoned by him like a sack of rotten fruit in the end. That's the way of all autocrats; they eventually turn on everyone save perhaps their own relatives, because no one can live up to their demands for fealty.

The Constitution's framers envisioned America's political leaders as bound by a devotion to country above all else. That's why all elected officials take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. By protecting Donald Trump at all costs from all consequences, the Republicans risk violating that sacred oath.

Senator Smith's question once again hangs over the Republican Party: Surely they are not so desperate for short-term victory as to tolerate this behavior? We'll soon find out.


Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

- Kris Kristofferson

Friday, October 18, 2019

Something to Know - 18 October

This piece from the NY Times puts into realistic context how the United States of America via Tump's foreign policy got rolled.  Honorable and dedicated military generals, once retired, have raised grave concerns and alarms.  General Mattis, at a dinner last night stated that he earned his spurs on the battlefield while Trump earned his spurs from a doctor's letter:


Turkey's Victory Over Donald Trump

The Turkish president got what he wanted — as did Russia and Iran.

By The Editorial Board

Oct. 17, 2019

President Trump's decision to withdraw 1,000 American troops from Syria without consulting any aides, experts or allies, and without any warning to America's Kurdish comrades in arms, whom he placed in mortal danger, has provided chilling evidence of the danger posed by his chronic inability to appreciate a president's responsibilities.

Mr. Trump, as he always does, claimed a huge victory — "an amazing outcome" that saved "millions and millions of lives." That scores of Kurdish lives have already been lost, that thousands of people have fled their homes, that a swarm of Islamic State followers escaped from internment camps, that the Kurds themselves turned for help to the mass murderer Bashar al-Assad, that America's dwindling credibility in the world was further undermined, meant nothing to the president. "It's not our border," he said on Wednesday.

Mr. Trump's apologists, too, have been quick to marshal a defense — the Middle East is full of horrible dictatorships, conflicts and crimes against humanity, and presidents before had longed to pull America out of what Mr. Trump has called the region's "endless, senseless wars." In northern Syria, the Americans were trapped between two allies, the Kurds who fought with them on the ground and the Turks, whose country is a NATO ally and repository of American tactical nuclear weapons. Something eventually had to give. There was a serious case to be made for pulling out.

But not like this.

The acute shame of the moment was captured in two reports this week. The first was a video of a Russian-speaking reporter wandering through a hurriedly abandoned American base in northern Syria, rummaging among the Coca-Cola cans and footballs. The second arrived with news that two United States Air Force F-15 jets had destroyed an American munitions bunker in Syria to prevent munitions and other equipment from falling into the hands of other armed groups.

It is not unusual for the United States to demolish its own bases before departing a battlefield. It has done so in Afghanistan and Iraq. But that work is normally done by bulldozers or explosives in a calm, orderly way, not with last-minute airstrikes. And the Americans did not just leave behind munitions — in the heads of all those Kurdish fighters are the tactics, training and procedures of the American Special Forces personnel they fought alongside.

The betrayal was agonizing. The Kurds are the world's lost nation, their lands divided among five Middle Eastern countries that treat them as dangerous interlopers. They thought they had found a protector in the United States — Kurds in Iraq had been America's allies, and those in Syria carried the brunt of the fight against the Islamic State. But then, casually in an Oct. 6 call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Mr. Trump abruptly sold them out, while also making an unexpected and unwarranted gift not only to Mr. Erdogan, who regards the Syrian Kurds as mortal enemies, but also to Mr. Assad and his patrons, the Russians and Iranians.

If any more evidence is required, there's that impossibly puerile follow-up letter to Mr. Erdogan, with the casual threat to destroy the Turkish economy and the chatty advice — "Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!" — which the Turkish president's office confirmed Mr. Erdogan promptly dumped in a trash can.

Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, has proposed legislation to fast-track visas to the United States for the translators and other Syrian Kurds who served alongside American forces in the fight against the Islamic State. Congress should pass such a bill expediently.

It was heartening, at least, that many Republican lawmakers were sufficiently horrified by Mr. Trump's betrayal of the Kurds to condemn it in the House of Representatives, in a resolution that passed 354 to 60. The Senate has been preparing its own legislation, although no vote has been scheduled. Senator Lindsey Graham, who had harshly criticized Mr. Trump for giving a green light to Turkey to invade Syria, backtracked on Thursday, saying he would work with the president "to build upon this breakthrough."

It was left to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence to do urgent damage control in Ankara, Turkey, and, after close to five hours of talks on Thursday, Mr. Pence solemnly announced that Mr. Erdogan had agreed to a five-day cease-fire in his offensive in northern Syria. But Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, immediately said that the deal was not a cease-fire at all, but merely a "pause for our operation." He added, "we got what we wanted." As did Russia and Iran.


Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

- Kris Kristofferson

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Something to Know - 17 October

This is the same rating company that declared that all of the mortgage backed securities (all grade - AAA) that were put forth by the financial institutions that the Big Short made famous in a scandal,  that almost drove this country into a deep depression in 2007.  So beware of what they might lead you to believe.  Too bad that Moody's does not invest any credence in morality and truthiness.

Moody's forecast: Trump will win election in landslide

The financial firm Moody's Analytics predicts that President Trump will win the 2020 election in a landslide due to today's economic conditions.


Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

- Kris Kristofferson

Andy Borowitz and the Latest Clown Car Report

The news is changing very fast and furiously right now.  It is difficult to keep up with the latest changes.  There is no use on pegging a story to send out, because it all Things Trump keep morphing into a new news break that tops the one of 10 minutes ago.  Stay tuned to your favorite TV news network for the latest.  It is impossible for the headlines in this morning's paper to reflect what is currently happening.   Watch the big news shows tonight, which will wrap up what has happened today.  For example, 40 minutes ago I see that Individual 1's Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, admits that there was a Quid Pro Quo, which is contrary to what Trump has been blowing out of his pie hole for the last two weeks.  And then, Secretary of Energy, says that he will be quitting "soon".  Yes, the HMS Trump has finally hit the ice berg, and all the rats on the ship are bailing out, and some are quitting so that they can tell their story to the House Intelligence Committee as it continues its Impeachment Inquiry.   Enjoy the show:

The Life-Changing Magic of Impeaching Trump


Over the past five years, millions of Americans have ascended to a higher plane of fulfillment by tidying up their homes. By talking to our possessions, one by one, and asking if they spark joy, we have achieved a kind of contentment we never dreamed possible.

Now it's time to tidy up a residence that belongs to all of us: the White House.

At first, this seems like a daunting task. After all, the White House has a hundred and thirty-two rooms. There is much culling to be done.

But there's no reason to despair. Many useless things have already been hauled away. Reince Priebus, John Kelly, Steve Bannon, Kirstjen Nielsen, Michael Flynn, John Bolton, Sean Spicer, Hope Hicks, Sarah Huckabee Sanders—none of them sparked joy. And now they are all gone. And Anthony Scaramucci, who sparked joy as briefly as those paisley pants you immediately regretted buying at H&M—he is gone, too.

Clearly, though, more culling remains to be done.

We must look at Donald Trump and ask ourselves, "Does this spark joy?" And, although the answer to that question might be somewhat different in Russia, North Korea, and Turkey, the answer here is a resounding no.

Remember how, once you tidied up your dwelling, you discovered hidden treasures buried under all of those needless possessions? Well, once that garish orange thing that sparks no joy has been removed from the Oval Office, you'll be amazed what you'll find underneath. Things you forgot you even had, like democracy.

In the video above, from last weekend's New Yorker Festival, I speak about the happiness we can attain by decluttering the country of Trump. Much like Marie Kondo, the authors of the United States Constitution gave us a unique tool for improving our surroundings: impeachment. And the Twenty-fifth Amendment is pretty good, too.


Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

- Kris Kristofferson

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Fwd: Something to Know - 16 October

Here is the link to the above story that will afford you a more desired view:

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Juan Matute <>
Date: Wed, Oct 16, 2019 at 7:52 AM
Subject: Something to Know - 16 October
To: Juan Matute <>

From the emerging Santa Monica News Bureau, we have, this morning, a forwarded document from ProPublica that unearths documentation that the Trump Organization, appears to have operated property in New York City at 40 Wall Street with two sets of books.   One that showed that they were worth more in one set of books to lenders, and one to the City of New York, tax assessor,  that the worth was much less.  Financial observers, and other money followers say that there appears to be " vision of fraud" going on.   After years of legal wrangling and appeals, these records are now public, and will be investigated by Congress and be part of the portfolio that Trump is acquiring under the label of "high crimes and misdemeanors" 

Never-Before-Seen Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies

The president's businesses made themselves appear more profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials. One expert calls the differing numbers "versions of fraud."

by Heather Vogell

 Oct. 16, 4 a.m. EDT

Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump's businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings' property tax.

For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.

Lenders like to see a rising occupancy level as a sign of what they call "leasing momentum." Sure enough, the company told a lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased on Dec. 31, 2012, and then rose to 95% a few years later. The company told tax officials the building was 81% rented as of Jan. 5, 2013.

Stay Informed. Get ProPublica's Daily Digest.

A dozen real estate professionals told ProPublica they saw no clear explanation for multiple inconsistencies in the documents. The discrepancies are "versions of fraud," said Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. "This kind of stuff is not OK."

New York City's property tax forms state that the person signing them "affirms the truth of the statements made" and that "false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties."

The punishments for lying to tax officials, or to lenders, can be significant, ranging from fines to criminal fraud charges. Two former Trump associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, are serving prison time for offenses that include falsifying tax and bank records, some of them related to real estate.

"Certainly, if I were sitting in a prosecutor's office, I would want to ask a lot more questions," said Anne Milgram, a former attorney general for New Jersey who is now a professor at New York University School of Law.

Trump has previously been accused of manipulating numbers on his tax and loan documents, including by his former lawyer, Cohen. But Trump's business is notoriously opaque, with records rarely surfacing, and up till now there's been little documentary evidence supporting those claims.

That's one reason that multiple governmental entities, including two congressional committees and the office of the Manhattan district attorney, have subpoenaed Donald Trump's tax returns. Trump has resisted, taking his battles to federal courts in Washington and New York. And so the question of whether different parts of the government can see the president's financial information is now playing out in two appeals courts and seems destined to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Add to that a Washington Post account of an IRS whistleblower claiming political interference in the handling of the president's audit, and the result is what amounts to frenetic interest in one person's tax returns.

ProPublica obtained the property tax documents using New York's Freedom of Information Law. The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records. We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump's lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities.

ProPublica reviewed records for four properties: 40 Wall Street, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, 1290 Avenue of the Americas and Trump Tower. Discrepancies involving two of them — 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower — stood out.

There can be legitimate reasons for numbers to diverge between tax and loan documents, the experts noted, but some of the gaps seemed to have no reasonable justification. "It really feels like there's two sets of books — it feels like a set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender," said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the records. "It's hard to argue numbers. That's black and white."

The Trump Organization did not respond on the record to detailed questions provided by ProPublica. Robert Pollack, a lawyer whose firm, Marcus & Pollack, handles Trump's property tax appeal filings with the city, said he was not authorized to discuss the documents. A spokeswoman for Mazars USA, the accounting firm that signed off on the two properties' expense and income statements, said the firm does not comment on its work for clients. Executives with Trump's lender, Ladder Capital, declined to be quoted for the story.

In response to ProPublica's questions about the disparities, Laura Feyer, deputy press secretary for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, said of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, "The city is looking into this property, and if there has been any underreporting, we will take appropriate action."

Taxes have long been a third rail for Trump. Long before he famously declined to make his personal returns public, a New York Times investigation concluded, Trump participated in tax schemes that involved "outright fraud," and that he had formulated "a strategy to undervalue his parents' real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns." Trump's former partners in Panama claimed in a lawsuit, which is ongoing, that Trump's hotel management company failed to pay taxes on millions in fees it received. Spokespeople for Trump and his company have denied any tax improprieties in the past.

In February, Cohen told Congress that Trump had adjusted figures up or down, as necessary, to obtain loans and avoid taxes. "It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes," Cohen testified, "and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes."

The two Trump buildings with the most notable discrepancies shared a financial trait: Both were refinanced in 2015 and 2016 while Trump was campaigning for president. The loan for 40 Wall Street — $160 million — was then the Trump Organization's biggest debt.

The fortunes of 40 Wall Street have risen and fallen repeatedly since it was constructed in 1930. Once briefly in the running to become the world's tallest skyscraper (before being eclipsed by the Chrysler Building and then others), the 71-story landmark had an illustrious history before falling into disrepair as it changed hands multiple times.

Trump says in his book "Never Give Up" that he took over 40 Wall Street for $1 million during a down market in 1995. Others have reported the price as $10 million. Trump gave the property his signature treatment, decking out the lobby in Italian marble and bronze and christening it "The Trump Building." Tenants such as American Express moved in.

But the rent rolls suffered when big-name tenants fled to Midtown in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks. Less blue-chip operations replaced them. In recent years, there were more setbacks. About two years ago, for example, high-end food purveyor Dean & Deluca canceled plans to locate an 18,500-square-foot emporium on the higher-priced first floor. The space remains empty.

The building at 40 Wall was underperforming, charging below-market rents, according to credit-rating agency Moody's. Its profits were lagging.

Trump's company, which has sometimes struggled to obtain credit because of his history of bankruptcies and defaults, turned for relief to a financial institution where Donald Trump had a connection: Ladder Capital, which employs Jack Weisselberg, the son of the Trump Organization's longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg. Ladder is a publicly traded commercial real estate investment trust that reports more than $6 billion in assets. In 2015, and still today, Jack Weisselberg was an executive director whose job was to make loans.

Trump and Jack Weisselberg had history together. Jack was at UBS, in its loan origination department, in 2006, when the Swiss bank loaned Trump $7 million for his piece of the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Allen Weisselberg had bought a condo from Trump in one of his buildings for a below-market price of $152,500 in 2000. He deeded it to Jack three years later for about $148,000. Jack sold the unit for more than three times as much in 2006. (Jack Weisselberg declined to comment on Ladder's loans or his relationship with the Trump Organization.)

Even with a sympathetic lender, the struggles at 40 Wall Street would normally raise questions. Trump's representatives needed to demonstrate signs of the building's financial health if they wanted a new loan with a lower interest rate.

They had a compelling piece of data, it seemed. Trump's team told Ladder that occupancy was rebounding after registering a lackluster 58.9% on Dec. 31, 2012. Since then, Trump representatives reported, the building had signed new tenants. Income from them hadn't fully been realized yet, largely because of free-rent deals, they said. But after 2015, they predicted, revenues would surge.

"That's a selling point for people in the business," said Riordan, who was previously the executive director of the Rutgers Center for Real Estate. Borrowers "want to show tremendous leasing momentum." The steepness of such a rise in occupancy at the Trump building was unusual, Riordan and other experts said.

Documents submitted to city property tax officials show no such run-up. Trump representatives reported to the tax authorities that the building was already 81% leased in 2012.

"What is bizarre is that you have these tax filings that are totally different," Riordan said. A gap of at least 10 percentage points between the two occupancy reports persisted for the next two years, before the figures in the tax and loan reports synced in January 2016.

The portrayal of a rapid rise in occupancy, and the explanation that income would soon follow, were critical for the refinancing. Indeed, Ladder's underwriters were predicting that 40 Wall Street's profits would more than double after 2015. Having reviewed Trump's financial statements and rent roll, they estimated the building would clear $22.6 million a year in net operating income.

Ladder needed credit ratings agencies like Moody's and Fitch to endorse its income expectations and give the loan a favorable rating, which would in turn make it easier for the next step of the plan: to package the loan as part of a bond, a so-called commercial mortgage-backed security, and sell it to investors. Without the expected rise in income, Riordan said, the loan size or terms would likely have needed to be renegotiated to satisfy the ratings agencies and investors, which would mean less favorable terms for Trump and Ladder. "There was a story crafted here," Riordan said. "It's contradicted by what we see in the tax filings."

Wallace, the University of California professor, added: "Especially in underwriting loans, you are supposed to truthfully report." Both the lender and the borrower are required to supply accurate information, she said.

Moody's and Fitch analysts found the underwriter's projections slightly too rosy, but Fitch conferred an investment-grade rating on the loan, allowing it to proceed as planned. Trump ultimately received a 10-year loan with a lower interest rate than the building previously had as well as terms that would allow him to defer paying off much of the principal until the end of the loan.

Once granted, the loan to 40 Wall Street ran into trouble: The year after it went through, the loan servicer put it on a "watch list" because of concerns that the building wasn't making sufficient profit to pay the debt service with enough of a margin. It stayed on the list for three months. (Trump's company has continued making payments.)

As of 2018, the most recent year available, the building had never met the underwriters' profit expectations, trailing by more than 8%, according to data from commercial real estate research service Trepp. Experts say that, given the amount of research underwriters do, a property typically meets their expectations fairly quickly.

The 40 Wall Street documents contain discrepancies related to costs as well as to occupancy. Generally, there are "more opportunities to play games on the expense side," said Ron Shapiro, an assistant professor at Rutgers Business School and a former bank senior vice president, "particularly because there are many more kinds of expenses."

Comparing specific expense items in both sets of records is challenging, because accountants may group categories differently in reports to tax and loan officials. But some differences on 40 Wall Street documents elicit head-scratching.

For example, insurance costs in 2017 were listed as $744,521 in tax documents and $457,414 in loan records.

Then there was the underlying lease. Trump technically doesn't own 40 Wall Street. He pays the wealthy German family that owns the property for the right to rent the building to tenants. In 2015, both Trump's report to tax authorities and a key loan disclosure document asserted that Trump's company paid $1.65 million for these rights that year. But a line-by-line income and expense statement, which Trepp gathered from what the company reported to the loan servicer, reported the company paid about $1.24 million that year.

"I don't know why that would be off," said Jason Hoffman, who is chair of the real estate committee for a professional association of certified public accountants in New York state. Like other experts, he said there are legitimate reasons why tax and loan filings might not line up perfectly. But Hoffman said the firm where he works makes sure the numbers match when it prepares both tax and loan documents for a client — or that it can explain why if they don't.

Financial information for the Trump International Hotel and Tower raises similar questions. Trump owns only a small portion of the building, which is located on Columbus Circle: two commercial spaces, which he rents out to a restaurant and a parking garage. Trump's company told New York City tax officials it made about $822,000 renting space to commercial tenants there in 2017, records show. The company told loan officials it took in $1.67 million that year — more than twice as much. In eight years of data ProPublica examined for the Columbus Circle property, Trump's company reported gross income to tax authorities that was typically only about 81% of what it reported to the lender.

Trump appeared to omit from tax documents income his company received from leasing space on the roof for television antennas, a ProPublica review found. The line on tax appeal forms for income from such communications equipment is blank on nine years of tax filings, even as loan documents listed the antennas as major sources of income.

Trump has an easement to lease the roof space; he doesn't own it. But three tax experts, including Melanie Brock, an appraiser and paralegal who has worked on hundreds of New York City tax cases, told ProPublica that the income should still be reported on the tax appeals forms.

It's hard to guess what might explain every inconsistency, said David Wilkes, a New York City tax lawyer who is chair of the National Association of Property Tax Attorneys. But, he added, "My gut reaction is it seems like there's something amiss there."

Tax records for Trump personally and for his business continue to be subjects of contention in multiple investigations. The Justice Department has intervened in the investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, whose office has sought Trump's personal tax returns. Congressional lawmakers investigating his business dealings have sought documents from his longtime accountant, Donald Bender, a partner at Mazars. Trump is fighting the subpoenas in court. (Bender did not respond to requests for comment.)

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has said the committee is seeking to determine if Cohen's testimony about Trump inflating and deflating his assets was accurate. Cummings asked for Mazars' records related to Trump entities, as well as communications between Bender and Trump or Trump employees since 2009.

Such communications, the subpoena stated, should include any related to potential concerns that information Trump or his representatives provided his accountants was "incomplete, inaccurate, or otherwise unsatisfactory."

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Doris Burke contributed to this report.


Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

- Kris Kristofferson


Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

- Kris Kristofferson