Although President-elect Donald Trump still refuses to release his tax returns, there are other ways of determining where he has major conflicts of interest.
The Intercept's David Dayen has a detailed new report showing that Trump owes a frightening amount of money to Wells Fargo, the embattled bank that was busted earlier this year for creating fake accounts that wound up costing customers at least $2.5 million.
Specifically, Dayen speculates that Wells Fargo could get a break on its regulatory and legal burdens in the future once Trump takes office since the bank owns the mortgage on Trump Tower in New York City.
"Trump lives and works at Trump Tower, which has an appraised value of $480 million, according to a Wells Fargo securitization document filed with the SEC," Dayen writes. "Trump is listed as the sponsor of the 10-year mortgage loan on the building, refinanced in 2012 for $100 million. While the borrower is listed as 'Trump Tower Commercial LLC,' it’s made clear that 'The borrower is indirectly owned 100% by Donald J. Trump.'"
Dayen also cites a New York Times report from earlier this year showing that Trump owes the bank a total of $410 million, which is a hefty sum even by his standards to owe one entity.
How could this conflict of interest manifest itself in governance? Trump could potentially make appointments not only the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but also to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which has been hammering Wells Fargo for its failure to draw up a proper "living will" plan to ensure that if the bank fails, it would not pose a major threat to the American economy.
"So Trump could remake the two agencies currently sanctioning Wells Fargo, leading them to reverse the sanctions and allow the company’s living wills to move forward," Dayen explains. "And he could cripple the agency that looks out for consumers at a time when Wells Fargo has been ripping them off."