Forbes Reporters Testify To Grand Jury About Trump
On Thursday Forbes reporters Randall Lane and Chase Peterson-Withorn testified to one of two special grand juries convened by Cyrus Vance that are investigating Trump’s business dealings and have already criminally indicted the Trump Organization and its CFO. They were not cooperative witnesses. For three months they resisted testifying, but on Wednesday the judge ruled they must. Vance wasted no time, they were brought before the grand jury and testified the very next day. Lane published an article about the testimony on Friday.
According to Lane their testimony was very brief and laser focused on Trump. In particular, Lane’s testimony focused on his September 2015 article entitled “Inside Trump’s Epic Fantasy That Has Driven Him For 33 Years” that detailed Trump’s decades long obsession with the Forbe’s net worth estimate. Peterson-Withorn testified regarding his May 2017 article entitled “Donald Trump Has Been Lying About The Size Of His Penthouse.” The purpose of their testimony was to verify, under oath, the accuracy of their prior articles.
Lane’s testimony included:
- That he never encountered anyone as obsessed over his net worth as much as Trump.
- That Trump wanted his net worth inflated. Trump told Lane, “I look better if I’m worth $10 billion than if I’m worth $4 billion” because the higher number “was good for financing.”
- In Lane’s first interview with Trump, in 1993, Trump called him from the hospital, where his then wife Marla Maples, had just given birth to Tiffany.
- That Trump told Lane Forbes’ $530 million estimate for the value of Trump Tower should be increased to “$2 billion or $2.5 billion or $3 billion.”
- That Trump told them the value of his apartment in Trump Tower was double the $100 million of their estimate. Trump claimed the apartment was 33,000 square feet. The article by Peterson-Withorn documented that the apartment was only a third that size.
- That Trump, without solicitation, suggested to Lane that the headline for his 2015 story be “The King.”
That last one is just so very Trumpy.
Grand juries have very narrow purposes, to determine if there is probable cause to bring indictments. All they do is focused on that purpose. While the testimony of Lane and Peterson-Withorn is likely providing only a small piece of a much larger puzzle, it does indicate that puzzle is all about Donald Trump. Put simply, it suggests the grand jury is attempting to determine whether to indict Donald Trump. It’s also notable that prosecutors had to work hard to get this testimony, which indicates it was significant in moving the grand jury process along. The prosecutors would not wast their time, or that of the grand jury, unless they intend to bring indictments.
This testimony is not the only hint surfacing in just the last few days that the grand juries are focused on the person of Donald Trump. The Washington Post reports that an accountant named Donald Bender also testified to the grand jury. The specifics of that testimony are not known but Bender worked for the accounting firm Mazars and he handled (in the words of WaPo) “vast amounts of Trump’s financial information.” In addition, prosecutors interviewed Rosemary Vrablic, a Director of Deutsche Bank. Vrablic helped arrange massive loans from the bank to Trump and prosecutors reportedly pressed her about Trump’s dealings with the bank.
Maybe Stormy Daniels isn’t the only one to spank Donald Trump with a Forbes Magazine.