If investigators are going to get their hands on President Trump’s tax returns, they will have to find them somewhere other than Deutsche Bank.
The German bank — which for nearly two decades was the only mainstream financial institution consistently willing to lend money to Mr. Trump — has told a federal appeals court that it does not have the president’s personal tax returns, the court said on Thursday.
Democratic-controlled congressional committees issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank this year for financial records related to the president, his companies and his family. Mr. Trump sued the bank, which became his main lender after a string of bankruptcies cost other banks hundreds of millions of dollars, to block it from complying.
That litigation is working its way through the federal courts. Last month, The New York Times and other media outlets asked the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York to unseal a letter from Deutsche Bank that identified two members of the Trump family whose tax returns the bank possesses.
On Thursday, the court rejected the request. Part of the reason, it said, was that Deutsche Bank had informed the court that “the only tax returns it has for individuals and entities named in the subpoenas are not those of the president.”
Current and former bank officials previously told The Times that Deutsche Bank had portions of Mr. Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns. The bank collected at least some of those tax records in 2011, when Deutsche Bank’s private-banking arm — which caters to the ultra-wealthy — took on Mr. Trump as a client. The returns and other financial documents were reviewed by a number of bank executives, according to the current and former officials.
Deutsche Bank relied on the information provided in the tax returns and other financial documents to approve a series of loans to Mr. Trump in early 2012 in connection with his Doral golf resort in Florida and his Chicago skyscraper.
Over the ensuing years, Deutsche Bank’s private-banking arm continued lending to Mr. Trump, including $170 million in 2014 to convert the Old Post Office building, a few blocks from the White House, into a hotel. By the time Mr. Trump was sworn in as president, he owed the bank more than $300 million, making it his largest creditor.
It is unclear when Deutsche Bank stopped retaining Mr. Trump’s tax returns. A former senior bank executive, who said he had seen the returns, said the normal practice was for Deutsche Bank to keep such materials on file.
Troy Gravitt, a Deutsche Bank spokesman, said the bank was “committed to cooperating with authorized investigations.”
Breaking with decades of presidential precedent, Mr. Trump has refused to publicly disclose his federal tax returns, and Democrats are keen to obtain the documents, believing they are crucial to unlocking his closely guarded financial secrets. Mr. Trump is fighting those efforts.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers sued Deutsche Bank and another lender, Capital One, to block them from complying with subpoenas that were issued in April by the House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees.
The Financial Services Committee has said it wants to know whether Mr. Trump helped Russians and other foreign real estate buyers launder money through his properties, and the Intelligence Committee is trying to determine whether Mr. Trump’s financial dealings made him subject to foreign influence. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued the subpoenas have no legitimate legislative purpose.
During one hearing, judges from the appeals court asked the banks’ lawyers whether they had copies of Mr. Trump’s returns, and requested a written answer. Deutsche Bank released a partly redacted letter saying it did have at least draft versions of some returns covered by the subpoenas, prompting the news media requests for the information to be unsealed.
Investigators seeking Mr. Trump’s tax returns have other avenues to pursue.
Another congressional committee and the Manhattan district attorney have subpoenaed Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for his tax returns. Mr. Trump has sued to block those subpoenas as well; on Monday, a federal judge sided with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, but Mr. Trump’s lawyers quickly appealed.
The House Ways and Means Committee asked the I.R.S. this year to hand over six years of Mr. Trump’s returns. The Treasury Department has refused that request.
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