Trump says ailing commercial property industry shows his real estate deals were sound


Former President Donald Trump is pointing to turmoil in the commercial real estate and banking industry to argue his real estate transactions were pristine and should not be sanctioned by a New York judge weighing whether the Trump Organization committed fraud.

Mr. Trump is waiting for Judge Arthur Engoron in Manhattan to decide whether Mr. Trump and his company submitted fraudulent financial statements to gain favorable terms on loans.

Writing on Truth Social, Mr. Trump late Monday said everyone benefited from his deals for years, but banks are now reeling because commercial properties were hit by the coronavirus pandemic and higher interest rates.

“Commercial properties are under DEFAULT & LITIGATION all over the World, except for my properties where loans have been PAID OFF IN FULL, no defaults, great & powerful Financial Statements with strong protective clause,” he wrote, “and I’m being sued by [New York Attorney General Letitia James] for borrowings from very happy lenders who were represented by the biggest and best law firms on what turned out to be perfect loans.”

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in a recent “60 Minutes” interview that some banks will have to close or be “merged out of existence” because commercial properties are struggling.

“We looked at the larger banks’ balance sheets, and it appears to be a manageable problem,” Mr. Powell said. “There’s some smaller and regional banks that have concentrated exposures in these areas that are challenged and, you know, we’re working with them.”

Mr. Trump is using current events to underscore a point he made during a multi-week trial on Ms. James’ lawsuit. He said banks were happy to lend to him and his financial statements had disclaimers that urged them to do their due diligence, making him a preferred client and not a fraudster.

Judge Engoron, however, ruled before the trial that some fraud occurred. He also suggested that some statements from the Trump Organization included false information and not estimates or valuations that are a natural part of the real estate industry.

The judge could issue his ruling any day now. Ms. James is seeking $370 million and wants to bar Mr. Trump from doing business in New York.

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