Image Credits: Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times.
Predictions of Donald Trump’s demise, whether legal, financial, or political, always seem to come to nothing. But I think that Mark Sumner of Daily Kos may be right that we’re seeing something significant with Trump’s accounting firm, Mazar’s USA, cutting ties with him and his company. It seems like a pretty important element of the disgraced former president’s defense has crumbled.
Specifically, in a letter dated February 9, Mazar’s informed a lawyer for the Trump Organization that he should inform all recipients of Trump’s financial data originating from the accounting firm not to rely on the information. In other words, Mazar’s wants to completely disown the work product they produced for Trump.
The letter also fires the Trump Organization as a client, clarifying that only a few loose ends remain before their relationship can be severed for good. This letter was promptly filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James with the court.
The AG’s office, which got a hold of the letter, filed it in court to bolster its case that Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Don Jr. should be forced to testify about how so many family real estate development projects and properties had wildly fluctuating values that seemed high whenever they needed loans but low whenever it came time to pay taxes.
Now, Letitia James’ case against the Trumps is civil in nature, and it’s unclear what derogatory information could ever divorce the 45th president from his loyal supporters on the right, but this Mazar’s news could definitely create a big financial problem. After all, when your accounting firm basically agrees that your finances are sketchy then it is going to be hard to stay in business.
It signals to me that the Trump Organization is in big trouble, and there could eventually be political or legal consequences that follow on from that. Everyone has an Achilles’ Heel, and it could be that it’s Trump’s business practices that bring him down. He is a master of illusion, but without a business he will have a hard time maintaining his image as a savvy and successful billionaire.
He can take victimhood a long way, but it’s really his ability to come away unscathed that maintains his legend. As Gotham Gazetter reporters Ron Fein & Jed Shugerman pointed out in August 2019, James can dismantle the Trump Organization:
New York Attorney General Letitia James doesn’t answer to Trump, and she has a power unique in America: the power to investigate and potentially dissolve the Trump Organization. It’s time to use that power.
Under the state’s Business Corporation Law—the modern version of a long-standing legal procedure with a rich history tracing back to the medieval English “writ of quo warranto” —Attorney General James can file a lawsuit in state court to dissolve a corporation, such as the Trump Organization, that is incorporated in New York. The test is whether the company “has exceeded the authority conferred upon it by law,…or carried on, conducted or transacted its business in a persistently fraudulent or illegal manner, or by the abuse of its powers contrary to the public policy of the state has become liable to be dissolved.” (This is a cousin of the separate legal provision under which the New York Attorney General successfully sued to dissolve the Trump Foundation.)
That probably sounds to you like a proposition that is easier said than done, and that’s true. But it just became a lost easier to make the case that the Organization has acted in a persistently fraudulent manner. Trump’s accounting firm has essentially said as much.
This is hardly the only problem Trump faces, but it might be deceptively deadly for his future.