Prosecutors investigating Donald Trump have ‘tons’ of his Sharpie-scribbled documents
- Manhattan prosecutors have assembled a large cache of potentially damaging financial documents bearing Donald Trump’s telltale Sharpie marks, sources told Insider.
- Experts say handwriting on paper documents will be crucial in proving knowledge and intent.
- A court battle looms next week over even more personal documents that Trump has refused to hand over.
Almost three years after their investigation of Donald Trump and his companyManhattan prosecutors have assembled a trove of potentially incriminating financial documents bearing the former president’s handwritten signature, initials or other writings, Insider has learned.
The documents — indicated by the bold lines of Trump’s ubiquitous black Sharpieand some in the possession of prosecutors for a year or more – are evidence in an ongoing investigation into possible tax, banking and insurance fraud, according to three people directly involved in the investigation.
One of them described these paper documents as voluminous.
“They already have a ton that have his signature on them, that have his initials, that have his handwriting on them,” said the source, who like others who spoke to Insider this week, asked not to be named. due to their involvement in the ongoing probe.
Depending on the amount of handwriting on them — a letter, say, as opposed to just initials — these documents could be particularly valuable to prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney and New York Attorney General, who are leading a joint criminal investigation into the Trump Organization.
Handwriting signals literal and practical contact, making it more difficult for the subject of an investigation to divert personal responsibility to a corporate finance officer, or to an outside accountant or appraiser.
“Obviously, it greatly strengthens a case when the government has material written by the subject of an investigation,” said Duncan Levin, a former major economic crimes prosecutor who once headed the US Attorney’s Asset Forfeiture Office. Manhattan.
“If a jury sees someone’s handwriting on a document, that does a lot to bring a document to life,” Levin added.
A partner in the Manhattan firm Tucker Levin, he is currently representing a cooperating witness in the prosecutor’s investigation, Jennifer Weisselberg.
She is the former daughter-in-law of Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer who is now accused of dodging income tax taking part of his salary in non-taxed benefits, including tuition for his grandchildren.
Last summer, one of those tuition checks — bearing Trump’s signature in black marker — became the first document signed by Trump to be publicly revealed to be in the hands of Manhattan investigators from the D.A.’s office or the ‘AG.
In a court filing last month, James described other potentially incriminating handwritings – including a 2011 memo to Richard Byrne, CEO of Deutsche Bank, a frequent lender to Trump, in which the AG says Trump “told the outlook” from the Trump National Doral station in Miami. .
“I hope you will be impressed!” the note read.
Trump’s dealings with Deutsche Bank play a significant role in the investigation.
Prosecutors are investigating whether Trump fraudulently inflated his value by obtaining loans from the bank, including a $125 million loan for the Doral, one of nine Trump properties that the AG says are subject to of an investigation.
Other signed or initialed documents in the possession of investigators include what the AG calls Trump’s “personal certifications” of his worth that have been submitted to potential lenders over the years.
A grand jury heard testimonies in the probe since November.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment through a spokesperson, as did a spokesperson for the AG’s office. Trump’s attorneys also declined to comment on the investigation.
James’ office issued its first subpoena for Trump’s testimony and company financial documents in the summer of 2020, as part of his office’s ongoing civil investigation into the company.
She complained in court papers last month that since those first subpoenas, “the Trump Organization has done nothing that comes close to a full production of documents for Mr. Trump.”
The paper documents will form the bulk of any case against the notoriously computer-averse former president, James suggested.
“While Mr. Trump does not use email or a computer, at least according to reports, he regularly generated handwritten documents,” she wrote in court documents filed last month.