Did Ivanka Trump Just Low-Key Throw Her Dad Under The Bus?
Her testimony lacked fireworks, but it laid out some key admissions
She’s poised. She’s polite. And she’s a fraud.
Ivanka Trump reminds me a lot of the complicit, enabling Republican officials who are now trying desperately to sanitize their past with Donald Trump and put distance between themselves and him. It’s just really awkward watching his own daughter do it.
Ms. Trump showed up to testify in the New York civil fraud case on the final day of the state’s case. She came despite being such a busy mom with school and all. But what she didn’t come with is much of a memory.
She repeatedly claimed an inability to recall details of the crucial loans she helped land, and of the questionable financing behind them.
But no matter. Attorney General Letitia James came with receipts. She showed her document after document—which Ms. Trump claimed not to remember but importantly did not dispute—that together completed a critical piece of the puzzle: How exactly did Donald Trump manage to get $300 million in loans from Deutsche Bank in 2011, when no other bank would come near him at the time?
It turns out, Ivanka Trump helped close the deal. She was quite aware of the fraud her father was perpetrating about his net worth. And in something of a “Perry Mason” moment in court, she helped establish that her father’s “personal guaranty” to secure the loan was bogus. In fact, Trump had secretly made his own children, including Ivanka, promise to cover him on the guaranty. That meant it wasn’t really a personal guaranty at all. It was fraud, and Ivanka helped perpetrate it.
Let’s take a closer look at that deal, her involvement in the fraud, and what this could mean for the case legally.
Building the record
Judge Arthur Engoron already ruled that the Trump Organization and the Trump family committed fraud in their financial statements in an effort to obtain more favorable loans. What he’s weighing now is how much to penalize the defendants. But it really helps to have the backstory on how this all happened, and that’s where Ivanka Trump comes in.
Back in 2011, most banks wouldn’t come near Donald Trump. He was radioactive, given his prior bankruptcies, including one that happened just two years prior with Trump Entertainment Resorts. And if he ever did get a loan, it would be an expensive one given the risks he posed as a borrower.
Enter Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband. Kushner introduced a banker named Rosemary Vrablic from Deutsche Bank. While commercial lenders wouldn’t touch the loan, Vrablic, who was in the bank’s private wealth management group, was willing to work with Trump on the financing. The question was, what kind of assets would Trump have to show, and what kind of personal guaranty would satisfy higher-ups at the bank?
Enter Ivanka Trump. She helped negotiate the deal on the loans, including a loan to convert the Old Post Office in D.C. into a Trump hotel property. In exchange for the loan, Deutsche Bank asked for two things:
1) for Donald Trump to personally attest that he had a personal net worth of $2-3 billion dollars based on his (wait for it) annual statements of financial conditions; and
2) a personal guaranty from Donald Trump that he could cover all of the interest and principal on the loan, including operational expenses of each of the properties being financed, should the Trump Organization not be able to make good on its obligations.
Both of these requirements were going to be problems. So Ivanka Trump helped solve them.
Perpetrating fraud and “guaranteeing the guaranty”
As she acknowledged in an email exchange with a Trump Organization lawyer named Jason Greenblatt, Ivanka Trump knew that the request for a net worth attestation required by Deutsche Bank was “going to be a problem.”
Not, apparently, for her father. Donald Trump ultimately claimed to Deutsche Bank that he not only had the $2.5 billion in net worth (exclusive of his brand) that the bank had required, he had over $4 billion in assets.
Ivanka Trump knew this claim was untrue. In fact, she had worked to negotiate a reduction in the asset requirement from $3 billion down to $2.5 billion based on her concerns.
Then, another gotcha moment by the state. As Lisa Rubin of MSNBC, who was in attendance during the testimony, summarized:
The AG’s lawyer just showed Ivanka proof that despite making a personal guaranty to Deutsche Bank in connection with the Old Post Office loan, Trump then entered into an agreement with his adult kids, through which each agreed to pay him money through their revocable trusts to ensure he could meet that obligation.
In other words, as Linda Richmond would say, “Trump’s personal guaranty was neither personal nor a guaranty! Discuss.”
When the loan terms based on these fraudulent representations came through, Ivanka Trump was ecstatic. “It doesn’t get better than this,” she gushed to Vrablic. “You are the best Rosemary!” she wrote in another. (Vrablic resigned her position in 2020 after her involvement in these questionable loans raised the concerns of prosecutors and an internal bank investigation was launched into her personal purchase of a piece property owned in part by Kushner, who was her client.)
Legal impact of her testimony
So is Ivanka Trump in legal peril? Likely not, sad to say. In June, a New York appellate court dismissed her from the civil fraud suit on statute of limitations grounds. By 2016, she had wisely stepped away from running any of the company and assumed a position in the White House, and she doesn’t stand accused of any misconduct during that period.
But that doesn’t mean her testimony, however matter-of-factly and without drama it was given, won’t have a potentially significant impact on the trial. Because there is no jury in this case, Judge Engoron will be writing an opinion and making factual findings. Those findings will stand so long as there is substantial evidence in support of them. And through her testimony and authentication of documentary evidence, Ivanka Trump has laid a solid foundation for the rest of the case.
She established that the obtaining of very favorable loan terms with low interest rates (“It doesn’t get better than this!”) was contingent upon two representations by her father, both of which she knew were fraudulent: the inflated statement of net worth (“going to be a problem”) and the personal guaranty (the one her dad wanted her to cover for him.)
Her testimony wasn’t like the wrestling match that Donald Trump got into earlier in the week. Rather, it was like a chess tournament, quiet and plodding—but with a checkmate at the end.