New York prosecutors conducted an hours-long interview on Thursday with Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former attorney, asking a range of questions about the president’s business dealings, according to three people familiar with the meeting.
The interview focused in part on Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, his biggest and longest-standing creditor, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The interview, at least the second of Cohen by the Manhattan district attorney, comes amid a long-running grand jury investigation into Trump’s business dealings.
District attorney Cyrus Vance Jr has been waging a protracted legal battle to get access to the president’s tax records. The US supreme court is expected to rule on Trump’s request for a stay and a further appeal after he leaves office 20 January.
The New York investigation is one of several legal entanglements likely to intensify as Trump loses power – and any immunity from prosecution he might have as a sitting president.
The Manhattan-based grand jury has been continuing work despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has curtailed many court operations.
The Republican president also faces a civil investigation, led by New York attorney general Letitia James, a Democrat, into whether his company lied about the value of its assets to get loans or tax benefits.
Cohen is cooperating with that inquiry too. He previously told Congress Trump often inflated the value of his assets when dealing with lenders or potential partners, but deflated them when it benefited him for tax purposes.
The White House declined to comment. A message seeking comment was sent to Cohen’s attorney.
Trump has repeatedly called the investigations by Vance and James baseless political “witch-hunts”.
Vance, a Democrat, has has declined to provide details about the investigation. But court filings have pointed to news reports of what prosecutors described as “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization”.
Among the reports Vance’s office referenced in court filings was a 2017 article about Ladder Capital, a commercial mortgage lender that made more than $250m in loans to the Trump Organization, secured by Trump properties.
Jack Weisselberg, the son of Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, is a director of Ladder Capital.
Subpoenas issued in the investigation cover 11 entities engaged in business dealings as far away as Europe and Dubai, according to an appeals court judge speaking at a hearing.
Cohen, serving the remainder of a federal prison sentence on home confinement, has been asked by investigators to examine Trump Organization documents and provide other details about its corporate structure, the people familiar with the matter said.
Cohen pleaded guilty to evading taxes, lying to Congress and facilitating campaign finance crimes.
Deutsche Bank continued to do business with Trump even after he defaulted in 2008 on a loan for his Chicago hotel and condo development and sued the bank and others he blamed for his inability to repay.
But Deutsche Bank’s private banking division continued to lend to Trump, including $125m to finance the purchase and renovation of his Doral golf resort in 2012, according to previous disclosures.