House Democrats seek Trump financial statements from Mazars USA
Democrats in Congress are asking Mazars USA, the accounting firm for the Trump Organization, for financial statements from the president’s businesses after reports emerged that he inflated or deflated amounts and used an unorthodox format for his financials dubbed a “Statement of Financial Conditions” when applying for bank loans and insurance.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, released a letter Wednesday that he sent last week to the chairman and CEO of Mazars USA LLP, the New York-based accounting firm that has been handling Trump businesses for decades under that firm name, as well as predecessors like WeiserMazars and Weiser LLP. Weiser LLP merged with the Paris-based accounting firm network Mazars in 2010 to form WeiserMazars, and changed its name in 2017 to Mazars USA.
Cummings has been submitting requests for documents from the White House since taking over chairmanship of the House Oversight Committee this year after Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, but so far the White House has mostly ignored his requests. But he has also been sending requests for documents to Trump-related businesses, associates and others who did business with him.
In this case, the document requests relate to his committee’s investigation into allegations that President Trump inflated or deflated financial statements for potentially improper purposes. The allegations were supported by corroborating documents produced to Cummings’ committee by Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who testified before the committee in February.
“Mr. Cohen produced to the Committee financial statements from 2011, 2012, and 2013 that raise questions about the President’s representations of his financial affairs on these forms and on other disclosures, particularly relating to the President’s debts,” Cummings wrote in his letter to Mazars USA chairman and CEO Victor Wahba. “Several of these documents appear to have been signed by your firm.”
His committee requested documents by April 3 from the firm. However, Cummings accused Republicans on his committee of interfering with the investigation by writing directly to Wahba and discouraging him from cooperating. In a separate letter to Wahba, ranking members Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., wrote, “The Chairman did not consult with the Republican members of the Committee before initiating his inquiry. We have since relayed our concerns to the Chairman; however, we believe it is prudent to inform you on this matter as well.”
Cummings reacted angrily to the Republican letter. “I suppose it is no longer a surprise that Republicans on the Oversight Committee are now opposed to oversight itself — especially since a Republican entered the White House,” he said in a statement. “If they had their way, the committee would just close up shop for the next two years, but that is not what the American people elected us to do. We are following up on specific allegations regarding the President’s actions based on corroborating documents obtained by the Committee, and we will continue our efforts to conduct credible, robust, and independent oversight.”
Mazars USA declined to comment to Accounting Today on its work for Trump, but emailed this statement: "Mazars believes strongly in the ethical and professional rules and regulations that govern our industry, our work and our client interactions. As a matter of firm policy and professional rules we do not comment on the work we conduct for our clients."
Trump and his businesses used an unusual format known as a “Statement of Financial Condition” when reporting on his financials. However, there were some eyebrow-raising inconsistencies. Cummings noted that during a nine-month period between June 30, 2012 and March 31, 2013, the value of Trump’s assets appeared to have “skyrocketed” by $2.4 billion. “The bulk of this increase — $4 billion — is attributable to a single line item for 'Brand Value' that was absent in the President’s financial statements for 2011 or 2012. It is unclear how this item was valued, why it was included in 2013 but not prior years, and whether the President or someone else directed your firm to insert it.”
The Washington Post cited other examples. In another 2012 statement, Trump claimed he owned a 2,000 acre vineyard in Charlottesville, Virginia, but land records indicate it’s only 1,200 acres. In one of the statements, Trump claimed Trump Tower had 68 stories when it actually has only 58.
Some of the documents included disclaimers, labeled “Accountants’ Warning.” One of them stated, “We have compiled the accompanying statement of Donald J. Trump as of June 30, 2012. We have not audited or reviewed the accompanying financial statement and, accordingly, do not express an opinion or provide any assurance about whether the financial statement is in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.”