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March 25, 2019

New York AG launches probe into Trump’s Jon Bon Jovi-smearing, failed bid to buy Buffalo Bills football team

March 12, 2019
New York AG opens probe into failed Trump bid to buy Buffalo Bills that involved smear campaign against Jon Bon Jovi (AP/Invision/AP)

New York’s top prosecutor has opened an investigation into whether President Trump broke the law while trying to bankroll his failed bid to buy the Buffalo Bills — a bizarre deal that featured a short-lived smear campaign against Jon Bon Jovi.

Two people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Daily News on Tuesday that Attorney General Tish James issued a subpoena overnight to Deutsche Bank for any records relating to Trump’s attempt to buy the National Football League team in 2014.

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One of the sources said the subpoena came in response to ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s sworn testimony before Congress last month that the President exaggerated his wealth in statements submitted to Deutsche Bank in order to more easily secure loans for the Bills offer. Cohen alleges Trump’s wealth inflation amounted to bank fraud.

In addition to the unsuccessful Bills deal, the sources said James issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and New Jersey-based Investors Bank in response to Cohen’s similar allegations about possible wrongdoing relating to financing for the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, the Trump National Doral near Miami and Trump Park Avenue in Midtown.

Deutsche Bank said it’s complying with James’s request while an Investors Bank representative did not respond to emailed questions. The AG’s office declined to comment on the subpoenas, which were first reported by The New York Times.

Trump ended up losing the bid to buy the Bills to natural gas billionaire Terry Pegula, who offered about $1.4 billion for the upstate New York team. The soon-to-be President had offered $1 billion, according to a person close to Trump.

But prior to Pegula locking in the deal, Trump orchestrated an at times vicious character assassination against New Jersey rocker Bon Jovi, who was also bidding on the football team.

Michael Caputo — the longtime Republican operative who would go on to run communications for Trump’s 2016 campaign — spearheaded the mudslinging effort, which attempted to discredit Bon Jovi as a traitor after it was speculated that the “Living on a Prayer” singer was trying to relocate the Bills to Toronto.

Caputo orchestrated a faux grassroots effort called “12th Man Thunder” that staged anti-Bon Jovi stunts around Buffalo.

One of Caputo’s most prominent stunts was establishing “Bon Jovi-Free Zones” at bars and restaurants around the city — jeering that was covered by national media outlets.

A double amputee cancer survivor was contracted to serve as the Bon Jovi-bashing group’s leader to obscure its ties to Caputo, who had been a public face for Trump during his scuttled attempt to run for New York governor a year prior.

But the “12th Man Thunder” show was short-lived.

Caputo told The News on Tuesday that he had to end the public relations stunt after Trump made a formal offer on the Bills and signed a non-disclosure agreement pledging to not speak publicly about the other bidders.

“Within a week of announcing his interest, my role was eliminated,” Caputo said.

A spokesman for the Trump Organization did not return a request for comment and neither did a representative for Bon Jovi.

After the Bills deal fell through, Trump appeared a bit bitter.

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“Even though I refused to pay a ridiculous price for the Buffalo Bills, I would have produced a winner. Now that won’t happen,” Trump tweeted on Oct. 13, 2014.

Caputo said he had no knowledge whether a Deutsche Bank loan was used to finance Trump’s offer or whether the President lied to obtain it.

But the ex-Trump adviser — who has testified in Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation — took a shot at James over what he saw as a “phishing campaign.”

“Instead of prosecuting crimes, they’ve identified someone they want to investigate until they find a crime,” Caputo said. “If this is the way that the New York attorney general wants to conduct her business, it’s very clear that the real criminals will run amok.”

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