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Banks Give Documents Possibly Linked to Trump to Investigators

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08/08/2019 | 05:45am EDT

By Jean Eaglesham, Rebecca Davis O'Brien, Siobhan Hughes and David Benoit

Major Wall Street banks have given congressional committees investigating President Trump thousands of pages of documents related to Russians who may have had dealings with Mr. Trump, his family or his business, people familiar with the congressional probes said. Some banks are also giving documents related to Mr. Trump's business, the Trump Organization, to New York state investigators, people familiar with the New York investigation said.

Wall Street firms including Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo & Co. have recently provided thousands of financial documents related to Russians who may have had dealings with Mr. Trump or his family or his business to congressional investigators, according to people familiar with the congressional probes. The investigators are working on a joint probe into potential foreign influence on Mr. Trump and his family by the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. More information will likely be handed over in coming weeks as the banks continue to respond to subpoenas sent in April, the people said.

Separately, Deutsche Bank, Mr. Trump's primary bank, has turned over emails, loan agreements and other documents related to the Trump Organization to the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, in response to a civil subpoena sent earlier this year, according to people familiar with the New York investigation.

Ms. James's office has also in recent weeks received financing documents and emails from Investors Bancorp Inc., the people said. The Short Hills, N.J., regional bank handed over thousands of pages in response to a civil subpoena demanding information on a 2010 mortgage on Trump Park Avenue, a condominium building in Manhattan owned by Mr. Trump, the people said.

Mr. Trump has filed several lawsuits seeking to block lawmakers and states from getting access to his bank, accounting and tax records. The documents being provided by the banks could give investigators some of the same information Mr. Trump is trying to block.

The legal fights "could drag on for months, if not years -- and that of course is the president's strategy," said Saikrishna Prakash, a law professor at the University of Virginia. "The Democrats are seeking to investigate, embarrass the president, and he's trying to delay his personal finances becoming public."

Mr. Trump is fighting in court to try to stop Deutsche Bank and Capital One Financial Corp., two of the banks with the most information on his business, from handing over information to Congress. A federal appeals court in New York is due this month to consider a challenge by Mr. Trump, his three oldest children and his business to subpoenas from the House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees seeking records from the two banks. The banks have said they aren't taking any position on whether they should be compelled to provide information.

Another federal appeals court last month considered a bid by Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization to block a subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee seeking eight years' worth of financial statements and other records from Mazars USA LLP, Mr. Trump's longtime accounting firm. Mazars said in a statement it will "respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations."

Mr. Trump also last month sued the Democratic-led U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, as well as the New York attorney general, to block the disclosure of years of his state tax returns.

Committee investigators are reviewing the documents provided to Congress so far by the Wall Street firms, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), said in an interview in June. "We've gotten [information] from a lot of banks."

Senior Democrat House intelligence committee officials said last month they are looking for evidence of foreign influence on the administration "whether it was during the campaign, the transition, the inauguration or currently." Democrats are looking in particular for any evidence of Russian money going into Trump properties, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Mr. Trump has accused New York's Ms. James, a Democrat who took office in January, of "harassing all of my New York businesses" to make him look bad. Ms. James responded in a tweet that "no one is above the law, not even the President."

Mr. Trump has publicly declared that he was exonerated by former special counsel Robert Mueller's nearly two-year probe into alleged Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Mueller in his report said he wasn't exonerating Mr. Trump.

The New York attorney general's subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bancorp are part of a civil investigation, which could yield fines or other civil actions if the office alleges illegality. The Deutsche Bank documents relate to three mortgages the bank extended to Mr. Trump's business, as well as proposed financing that didn't go through, people familiar with the New York investigation said. CNN reported earlier this year that Deutsche Bank had begun providing financial records to the New York attorney general.

Mr. Trump is seeking to quash the congressional subpoenas by arguing that Democrats are exceeding their constitutional powers by conducting investigations not directly tied to legislation. That legal argument couldn't be used to contest information demands from the New York attorney general, lawyers not involved with the investigation said.

The congressional and state investigations are seeking different types of information. The congressional subpoenas being contested in court are seeking a broad range of financial documents from the Trump family. In contrast, the documents being turned over to the New York attorney general involve loans to the Trump Organization, according to people familiar with the New York investigation.

The information already handed to Congress by banks includes records on Russian business people connected to a Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 involving members of Mr. Trump's family, the people familiar with the congressional probes said.

The meeting, set up at the request of a billionaire Russian-Azerbaijani real-estate developer's family, became a focal point in the Mueller investigation. The investigation didn't establish that anyone affiliated with the Trump presidential campaign knowingly conspired with Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election, the report said.

The congressional subpoenas are also seeking any information the banks may have about Russians connected to conversations the Trump organization officials had about a potential real-estate development in Moscow, one person familiar with the matter said. The Trump Organization had explored the possibility of a new Trump Tower in Moscow before and during the campaign, and Mr. Mueller reported on the discussions about that project.

Jenny Strasburg contributed to this article.

Write to Jean Eaglesham at jean.eaglesham@wsj.com, Rebecca Davis O'Brien at Rebecca.OBrien@wsj.com, Siobhan Hughes at siobhan.hughes@wsj.com and David Benoit at david.benoit@wsj.com

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
BANCORP INC 0.69% 10.19 Delayed Quote.28.02%
BANK OF AMERICA -0.77% 29.59 Delayed Quote.20.09%
CAPITAL ONE FINANCIAL CORPORATION -0.57% 92.74 Delayed Quote.23.39%
CITIGROUP INC. -0.55% 69.35 Delayed Quote.33.21%
DEUTSCHE BANK AG -0.76% 7.307 Delayed Quote.4.88%
INVESTORS BANCORP INC -0.52% 11.44 Delayed Quote.10.00%
JP MORGAN CHASE & COMPANY -0.40% 118.9 Delayed Quote.22.29%
MORGAN STANLEY -0.80% 43.67 Delayed Quote.10.14%
WELLS FARGO & COMPANY -0.57% 48.63 Delayed Quote.5.53%
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