April 07, 2020

Warren, Brown, Van Hollen, Blumenthal Question Deutsche Bank Over Trump Org's Request to Delay Loan Repayments Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Senators Concerned Bank May Give President's Family Business Special Treatment

Text of the Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, along with Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), wrote to Deutsche Bank about the Trump Organization's reported request for financial assistance amid the current crisis. They raised concerns about the bank's financial leverage over the President and his family and about the President's ability to improperly favor or punish Deutsche Bank based on whether they grant the Trump Organization's requests.

"The American public has a right to know if Deutsche Bank is providing special financial favors to the President or his family's company so that they can determine if these favors are affecting Trump Administration policy as it relates to Deutsche Bank," the senators wrote in their letter.

Deutsche Bank has a long-standing relationship with the Trump Organization. Since 1998, it has lent about $2 billion to President Trump and his companies, of which hundreds of millions of dollars remain outstanding. President Trump has refused to fully divest from his interests in the Trump Organization, and its financial interests are nearly inseparable from that of the President.  The Trump Organization recently reached out to Deutsche Bank to discuss whether repayments on these loans could be delayed; granting such a request would amount to a significant financial gift from Deutsche Bank. 

In their letter, the senators raised concerns about the problems created by the president's refusal to divest, noting that Deutsche Bank executives have reportedly "been fretting" that a disagreement with the Trump Organization might cause the Trump administration to retaliate against the bank. The senators also noted that Deutsche Bank is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, adding an additional incentive to grant special favors to the President's company at a time when big banks are seeking significant regulatory relief amidst the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

"This favor-seeking from the Trump Organization in the midst of the economic collapse raises the questions of whether Deutsche Bank may treat the Trump Organization more favorably than other similarly-situated companies, and whether President Trump or other administration officials may be inclined to either provide regulatory favors to Deutsche Bank in exchange for this beneficence or punish Deutsche Bank if it chooses not to engage in financial favoritism toward the Trump Organization," the senators wrote. 

To address their concerns, the senators requested information on any recent exchanges between Deutsche Bank and the Trump Organization or Kushner Companies, and also asked whether the bank has granted any requests to make changes to the Trump Organizations' financial obligations. They requested a response to their letter by April 21, 2020, and asked for an ongoing update of any discussions between the Trump Organization and Deutsche Bank, and any financial concessions made by the bank.. 

In August 2018, Senator Warren introduced the most sweeping ethics and anti-corruption legislation since Watergate, the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, which would require the President to place conflicted assets, including businesses and commercial real estate, into a blind trust to be sold off.