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‘Here is Cyrus Vance’s moment’: Donald Trump’s new legal nemesis

Joshua Chaffin
Financial Times
January 27, 2021

Partner Adam Kaufmann was quoted in a Financial Times article on the Manhattan District Attorney's investigation into Donald Trump and his organization.  Mr. Kaufmann provided insight into the office's prior investigation of Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump for allegedly misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo development.

Then there are the Trumps. They came into Mr Vance’s orbit after apartment buyers at their Trump SoHo development in Manhattan complained that Donald Jr and Ivanka had misled them by overstating the number of units that had been sold. Some prosecutors viewed the case as promising.

But Mr Vance decided to drop the matter in 2012. He did so after a visit from a prominent defence lawyer Marc Kasowitz, who had by then joined the Trumps’ legal team. The move drew attention because Mr Kasowitz had made a $25,000 campaign contribution to the DA’s re-election campaign a few months earlier.

The Vance campaign ended up returning the donation even though it was not illegal. Still, former staffers acknowledge the perception was unflattering.

Adam Kaufmann, then Mr Vance’s chief of the investigations division, was convinced the Trumps had knowingly lied and wanted to continue the investigation. But he and others also agreed the case was problematic.

The buyers had reached a financial settlement with The Trump Organization in which they signed a statement saying they had not been mistreated and, in an unusual twist, promised not to co-operate with law enforcement. In essence, the victims had turned against the prosecution.

“Cy was always troubled and felt from the outset that it was really kind of a civil matter and not a criminal fraud matter,” says Mr Kaufmann, who sat in the meeting with Mr Kasowitz. “There was a lot of baggage that came with the case. I can understand his perspective,” he adds.

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