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At This Hour
Biden Addresses World Leaders At United Nations; NY A.G. Files Civil Suit Against Trump, Some Of His Kids & Business. Aired 11:30a- 12p ET
Aired September 21, 2022 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Communities of nations. Investments that are designed not to foster dependency, but to alleviate burdens and help nations become self-sufficient. Partnerships are not to create political obligation but because we know our own success, each of our successes increased when other nations succeed as well.
When individuals have the chance to live in dignity and develop their talents, everyone benefits. Critical of that is living up to the highest goals of this institution, increasing peace and security for everyone, everywhere.
The United States will not waver in our unrelenting determination to counter and fort the continuing terrorist threats to our world. And we will lead with our diplomacy to strive for peaceful resolution of conflicts. We seek to uphold peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. We remain committed to our One China policy, which has helped prevent conflict for four decades.
And we continue to oppose unilateral changes in the status quo by either side. We support an African Union-led peace process to end the fight in Ethiopia, restore security for all its people. In Venezuela where years of political oppression have driven more than 6 million people from that country, whereas the Venezuelan-led dialogue and return to free and fair elections.
We continue to stand with our neighbor in Haiti as it faces politically fuel gang violence and an enormous human crisis. And we call on the world to do the same. We have more to do.
We'll continue to back the U.N.-mediated truce in Yemen, which is delivered precious months of peace for the people that have suffered years of war. And we will continue to advocate for lasting negotiating peace between the Jewish and democratic state of Israel and the Palestinian people.
The United States is committed to Israel's security full stop. And a negotiated two-state solution remains in our view the best way to ensure Israel's security and prosperity for the future and give the Palestinians the state which -- to which they are entitled both sides to fully respect the equal rights of their citizens. Both people enjoy an equal measure of freedom and dignity.
Let me also urge every nation to recommit to strengthening the nuclear Non-Proliferation regime through diplomacy. No matter what else is happening in the world, the United States is ready to pursue critical arms control measures. A nuclear war cannot be one and must never be fought.
The five permanent members of the Security Council just reaffirmed that commitment in January, but today, we're seeing disturbing trends. Russia shunned the Non-Proliferation ideals embraced by every other nation at the 10th NPT Review Conference. And again today, as I said, they're making irresponsible nuclear threats to use nuclear weapons.
China's conducting an unprecedented concerning nuclear buildup without any transparency. Despite our efforts to begin serious and sustained diplomacy, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea continues to blatantly violate U.N. sanctions. While the United States is prepared for a mutual return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action if Iran steps up to its obligations, the United States is clear, we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.
I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome. The Non-Proliferation regime is one of the greatest successes of this institution. We cannot let the world now slide backwards nor can we turn a blind eye to the erosion of human rights.
Perhaps singular among these body's achievements, stands the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is the standard by which our forebears challenged us to measure ourselves. They made clear in 1948 human rights are the basis for all that we seek to achieve.
And yet today in 2022 fundamental freedoms are at risk in every part of our world from the violations of Xinjiang. Detail recent reports by the Office of U.N. -- U.S. reports detailing by the US High Commissioner to the whole horrible abuses against pro-democracy actresses and ethnic minorities by the military regime in Burma to the increased repression of women and girls by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
And today, we stand with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran, who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights. But here's what I know. The future will be won by those countries that unleash the full potential of their populations where women and girls can exercise equal rights including basic reproductive rights and contribute fully to building a stronger economies and more resilient societies.
The religious and ethnic minorities can live their lives without harassment and contribute to the fabric of their communities where the LGBTQ plus community individuals live in love freely without being targeted with violence, where citizens can question and criticize their leaders without fear of reprisal.
The United States will always promote human rights and the values enshrined in the U.N. Charter in our own country and around the world. Let me end with this. This institution, guided by the U.N. Charter, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is at its core, an act of dauntless hope. Let me say that again, it's an act of dauntless hope. Think about the vision, those first delegates wandered and took a seemingly impossible task while the world was still smoldering.
Think about how divided the people in the world must have felt that the fresh grief of millions dead, the genocidal horrors of the Holocaust exposed. They have every right to believe only the worst of humanity. Instead, they reach for what was best in all of us.
And they strove to build something better, enduring peace, comity among nations, equal rights for every member of the human family, and cooperation for the advancement of all humankind.
My fellow leaders, the challenges we face today are great indeed but our capacity is greater. Our commitment must be greater still. So let's stand together to again declare the unmistakable result that nations of the world are united still.
And we stand for the values of the U.N. Charter, that we still believe by working together we can bend the arc of history toward a freer and more just world for all our children, although none of us have fully achieved it.
We're not passive witnesses to history. We are the authors of history. We can do this. We have to do it, for ourselves, and for our future, for humankind. Thank you for your tolerance and for listening to me. I appreciate it very much. God bless you all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On behalf of the General Assembly, I wish to thank the President of the United States of America, with a statement just --
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: All right. Fighting and direct, a war chosen by one man, President Biden with a sharp rebuke there of Vladimir Putin in his address before World Leaders. Back with me now, Kaitlan Collins, Jim Sciutto, and retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling who've all been listening in on this. Kaitlan, he -- no uncertain terms, he came out of the gate to go right at Vladimir Putin and the war that he began, what is -- what stuck out to you?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And this was a speech that they really did not have to do much rewriting on. We are told, Kate, despite that speech by President Putin earlier today, talking about how he wants to mobilize an additional 300,000 forces to use in Ukraine, they adjusted a few lines this morning, they emphasize some but really, they kind of expected that.
And so they say that they were prepared for that, and so President Biden right out of the gate there, offering that strong rebuke saying that Russia has shamelessly violated the Charter of the United Nations with this invasion of Ukraine. He said the war crimes that we've seen them commit in Ukraine should
make someone's blood run cold given, of course, just how disturbing they've been especially what we've seen out of Izyum in recent days with what President Zelenskyy has said, and basically just a strong condemnation of Russia's actions, and talking about how they are violating the essence of the United Nations there.
And he talked about Putin noting he wanted that troop buildup. He said that thinly veiled threat that he made about nuclear weapons was reckless. He talked about that as well and saying that there should be a commitment to Non-Proliferation. He also called for reform in the United Nations Security Council.
Russia is one of five members, Kate, that has veto power there. They've used it to try to of course block action on Ukraine.
BOLDUAN: Kaitlan, thank you so much. All right, we have some breaking news just in we need to get to right now. New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a federal lawsuit -- filed a civil lawsuit against former President Donald Trump, his children, and his family business. Let's listen in. She's speaking now.
LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: The organization controller Jeffrey McConney. Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization repeatedly and persistently manipulated the value of assets to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization a more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company, to pay lower taxes, to satisfy continuing loan agreements, and to induce insurance companies to provide insurance coverage for higher limits and at lower premiums.
This conduct was all in violation of Executive Law Section 63(12), which gives the attorney general broad and special powers to go after persistent and repeated fraud and illegality.
As part of demonstrating illegality under that section of the law, 63(12), we show that they violated several state criminal laws, including falsifying business records, issuing false financial statements, insurance fraud, and engaging in a conspiracy to commit each of these state law violations.
We believe the conduct alleged in this action also violates federal criminal law, including issuing false statements to financial institutions and bank fraud. And we are referring those criminal violations that we've uncovered to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service.
As a result of these violations, we are asking the court to, among other things, permanently bar Mr. Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, from serving as an officer or director in any corporation or similar entity registered and or licensed in New York.
To bar Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization from entering into any New York State commercial real estate acquisition or from applying for loans from any financial institution in New York for five years. To pay for the financial benefits obtained as a result of the persistent fraudulent practices at an estimated $250 million. And towards the end of my remark -- my remarks, I will go into the other relief that we are seeking.
At the center of this -- of the year-long financial scheme were the statements of financial condition that were prepared annually by and for Mr. Trump, specifically from 2011 to 2021. The statements were compiled by the Trump Organization executives and were issued as a compilation report by Mr. Trump's accounting firm.
The statements are explicit that the preparation was the responsibility of Mr. Trump. Where starting in 2016, the trustees of his trust Donald Trump Jr. and Allen Weisselberg for the sole beneficiary -- for the sole benefit of Mr. Donald Trump. Each statement was personally certified as accurate by Mr. Trump or by one of his trustees as part of the loan process, with the intent that the information in the statement would be relied upon by banks and insurers.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Weisselberg would meet to review and approve the final statement every year. Mr. Trump made known through Allen Weisselberg that he wanted his net worth reflected on the statements to increase a desire Mr. Weisselberg and others carried out year after year in their fraudulent preparation of the statements. And when asked about these meetings under oath as part of our deposition, both men, Mr. Trump and Mr. Weisselberg invoked their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and they refuse to answer.
When asked under oath if he, Mr. Trump, continued to review and approve the statements after becoming president of the United States in 2017, Mr. Trump again invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege and refused to answer. Over the course of our investigation, we found that Mr. Trump, his children, the Trump organization created and used more than 200 false and misleading asset valuations on his statement of financial condition over that 10-year period.
They issued statements that were in clear violation of generally accepted principles in the General Accounting Principles in the United States. Despite representing that the statements were prepared in accordance with these principles.
Some of the common tactics they used include, representing that Mr. Trump had cash on hand that he did not have, ignoring critical restrictions that would significantly impact property values when setting valuations, changing the methodology used to value properties from year to year without reason or notice.
And using vastly different methods to value different properties even in the same year, and including tangible items, such as brand premiums, the Trump premium, when calculating an asset's value despite the fact that they ignored the advice of outside professionals. They also ignored the advice and reprisals of outside professionals despite claiming those individuals provided certain figures.
For example, it received a series of bank-ordered appraisals for the commercial property at 40 Wall Street in New York City that calculated the value of the property at $200 million dollars as of August 2010 and $220 million as of November 2012.
Yet, in his 2011 statement, Mr. Trump listed 40 Wall Street with a value of $524 million, which increased to $530 million over the next two years, more than twice the value calculated by the professionals. Even more egregious, the $500 million plus valuation was attributed to information from the appraiser who valued the building at just over $200 million.
Another deceptive strategy they employed was to use objectively false numbers to calculate property values. Take Mr. Trump's triplex, you know the triplex apartment in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. Mr. Trump represented that his apartment spanned more than 30,000 square feet, which was the basis for valuing the apartment.
In reality, the apartment had an area of less than 11,000 square feet, something that Mr. Trump was well aware of. And based on that inflated square footage, the value of the apartment in 2015 and 2016 was $327 million. To this date, no apartment in New York City has ever sold for close to that amount.
Tripling the size of the apartment for purposes of the valuation was intentional and deliberate fraud. Not an honest mistake. Mr. Trump was intimately familiar with the layout of both the building and the apartment having personally overseen the construction of both.
Despite his sworn testimony before invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege, Mr. Weisselberg conceded that using the false square footage improperly inflated the value of the apartment almost threefold. Mr. Weisselberg admitted that this amounted to a overstatement of give or take $200 million.
Misrepresenting the size of the apartment was only one of the many ways that Mr. Trump intentionally misvalued his asset for the purposes of increasing his net worth and inducing banks to offer more favorable terms. Mr. Trump also returned -- routinely ignored legal restrictions on development rights and marketability on properties that would significantly decrease property values. For example, let's take Trump Park Avenue in New York.
This building contains both commercial and residential space, the unsold residential condo units owned by Mr. Trump and the Trump organization, representing the lion's share of the reported value for this property. Mr. Trump and his children intentionally ignored legal restrictions on some of the units that would have had -- that would have drastically changed the valuation specifically, the -- 12 of those units are actually rent-stabilized apartments.
A professional appraiser valued those 12 units at around $750,000. Noting that the rent-stabilized units cannot be marketed as individual units for sale because the current tenants cannot be forced to leave. Despite this professional valuation, and Mr. Trump knowing full well the legal restrictions, the 12 rent-stabilized units were valued, he valued them collectively on his statements at $49 million. That is about 65 times the appraised valuation.
Mr. Trump also blatantly ignored legal restrictions at Mar-a-Lago. Mar-a-Lago was valued on the false premise that it sat on unrestricted property and could be developed for residential use. However, Mr. Trump knew that Mar-a-Lago was subject to a host of onerous restrictions and limitations.
Mr. Trump himself signed deeds sharply restricting changes to the property and donating his residential development rights in an effort to get a tax deduction, and later to lower his property -- taxes on the property.
The deeds also require Mr. Trump to donate over 23 percent of Mar-a- Lago's value to the historic Trust for Historic Preservation, if he ever sold it. Despite these significant restrictions, Mr. Trump value the property based on the false premise that it was an unrestricted residential 18-acre plot of land that could be sold and used as a private home.
In fact, the valuations represent that these restrictions don't even exist. The club generated annual revenues of less than $25 million and should have been valued at more than -- valued at about $75 million. However, Mar-a-Lago was valued as high as $739 million.
Mr. Trump used inappropriate schemes to inflate the value of his other golf clubs. He valued the clubs based on their fixed assets, in other words, the money spent to acquire and to maintain them despite being informed by valuation professionals that this practice was inappropriate for a club operating as an ongoing business.
He again added a brand premium when determining the value of the club but claimed in his statements that he did not. And he inflated the value of unsold memberships often by hundreds of thousands of dollars per membership, even in situations where the memberships were given away for free at Mr. Trump's direction.
Inflating his reported net worth was just the first part of the scheme. He then uses these false statements of financial condition for his own personal gain. Mr. Trump and the Trump organization have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate loans and insurance coverage using these statements.
Mr. Trump was able to secure a much more favorable loan terms by personally guaranteeing the loans based on his reported net worth as reflected on his statements of financial condition. These statements were key integral to Mr. Trump and the Trump organization's ability to secure loans for a number of properties, including the old post office in Washington, DC.
Mr. Trump's statements were first submitted to the federal government to demonstrate his financial status, his net worth. He then engaged with Deutsche Bank to obtain a loan to redevelop the property. Mr. Trump was able to obtain much more favorable loan terms by personally guaranteeing the loans. So in 2014, he secured a loan from Deutsche Bank for $170 million.
And as you know, in May As of '22, the -- Mr. Trump and the Trump organization, they sold the post office -- the old post office property for $375 million. resulting in a $100 million net profit, which was the result of a loan he was able to obtain through the use of false and misleading statements of financial condition.
Separately, Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization saved an estimated $150 million by receiving favorable interest rates that were only provided based on the false and misleading statements of financial condition.
We also believe that he illegally saved millions of dollars in federal tax benefits, conservation easement donations related to Seven Springs in Westchester, and the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles. And his conduct (INAUDIBLE) action, but we are referring it to the IRS and to the Southern District of New York.
The examples I laid out just barely scratched the surface of the misconduct that we have uncovered. The complaint, which all of you should have a copy of, is more than 280 pages long. It includes examples from 23 assets that were grossly and fraudulently inflated, and those inflated values were used on Mr. Trump Trump's statements almost every year. All told, we uncovered more than 200 examples of false and misleading asset valuations that were used on his statements.
The pattern of fraud and deception that was used by Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization for their own financial benefit is astounding. Inflating the values of assets by whatever means necessary to increase Mr. Trump's purported net worth, and then that net worth -- net worth was used to further enhance his financial standing, intentionally misrepresenting his financial -- his financials to obtain incredible economic benefit. It was a scheme that by its very nature became more profitable over time. And it is all in stark violation of the law.
As I mentioned earlier, the relief that we are seeking specifically, we are asking the court again to permanently bar Mr. Trump, Donald Trump, Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, from serving as an officer or director in any corporation or similar business entity registered or licensed in New York State. We are barring Mr. Trump and his organization from entering into any New York State commercial real estate acquisition for five years.
We are barring Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization from applying for any loans from any financial institution registered with the New York Department of Financial Services for five years. We are requiring Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization to disgorge the financial benefits obtained through the persistent fraudulent practices, an estimated baseline at the minimum of $250 million.
And to an -- appoint an independent monitor at the Trump Organization to oversee compliance, financial reporting, evaluations, and disclosures to lenders, insurers, and tax authorities for no less than five years.
We are requiring the Trump Organization to prepare on an annual basis for the next five years, a GAAP, a Generally Accepted Accounting Practices compliant audited statement of financial condition showing Mr. Trump's net worth to be distributed to all the recipients of his prior statements of financial condition.
To replace the current trustees of the Donald J. Trump revocable trust with new independent trustees or require similar independent governance if a new trust is created. And to permanently Barr Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney, from serving in the financial control of any New York Corporation.
And lastly, to cancel any certificate filed under and by virtue of the provisions of Section 130 of the General Business Law, for the corporate entities named as defendants, and any other entity controlled by or beneficially owned by Donald Trump, which participated in or benefited from the ongoing financial scheme. In other words, permanently prohibit any of these companies from doing business in the state of New York.
I want to be clear. White Collar financial crime is not a victimless crime. When the well-connected, break the law to take in more money that they are entitled to. It reduces resources to working people to regular people, to small businesses, and to tax -- and all taxpayers. Every day people cannot lie to a bank about how much money they have in order to get a favorable loan to buy a home or to send their kid to college.