Forbes staff member sheds light on being subpoenaed by the Manhattan DA investigating Trump

Forbes staff member sheds light on being subpoenaed by the Manhattan DA investigating Trump
President Donald Trump pauses during the 9/11 Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Sept. 11, 2017. During the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, 184 people were killed at the Pentagon. To the left is first lady Melania Trump, and to the right are Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. (DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

Forbes staff writer Randall Lane is shedding light on the subpoena he received from the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., requesting him to testify before the grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump.

According to his latest report published by Forbes, Lane indicated that he and his colleague Chase Peterson-Withorn were asked to testify and answer questions regarding past pieces they'd written for the news outlet.

On Thursday, December 16, Lane testified before former federal prosecutor, Mark Pomerantz about a piece he wrote back in 2015. That piece detailed Trump's obsession with the news outlet's system for estimating net worth. Peterson-Withorn's piece focused on similar investigative line of questioning as it related to the estimated value of luxury Trump Tower apartment owned by the former president.

Lane went on to share the reason why Forbes has long objected to these types of subpoenas.

"They set a dangerous precedent," Lane explained, adding, "How do we keep an autonomous press when journalists suddenly must testify for or against the subjects they cover? Or manage the chilling effect, when sources of information on matters of public interest worry whether reporters could be dragged into a courtroom—or when journalists hold back, fearful of the resources needed to lawyer up?"

For the purpose of transparency, Lane also included a detailed breakdown of what they shared during their testimony before the grand jury.

  • The methodology that goes into our Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans. (He read aloud our 2015 published statement. You can read the largely similar current version here.) And that we apply that methodology consistently across the board. (Trump incorrectly claimed in the story that we somehow have one methodology for him and another for every other billionaire in America.)
  • That of the 1,600 or so people who have been on The Forbes 400 since 1982, none of them, as we report in the article, have been more fixated on their net worth than Donald Trump.
  • That Trump told me that he was worth “much more than” $4.5 billion,” our net worth estimate for him in 2015 – and, in fact, that he was worth “much more than $10 billion.”
  • That Trump told me that “I look better if I’m worth $10 billion than if I’m worth $4 billion,” as reported in the article.” More specifically, that Trump told me that a higher net worth number “was good for financing.”
  • That, as I reported in the article, the first time I interviewed Trump for Forbes, in October 1993, Trump told me he was calling from a waiting room in the hospital where his then-wife, Marla Maples, had just given birth to Tiffany Trump.
  • That Trump, as reported in the article, told me that our estimate of the value of his holdings in Trump Tower should be increased from $530 million by a factor of five or six. And that he said he could sell his stake in Trump Tower “for $2 billion or $2.5 billion or $3 billion.”
  • That Trump took Peterson-Withorn and me on a tour of his triplex penthouse in Trump Tower, as reported in the article, and told us the apartment was worth at least twice as much as the $100 million we pegged it at. Peterson-Withorn’s subsequent testimony was directly related to this – specifically, that he told us that his apartment was 33,000 square feet.
  • That, as reported, Trump said that during the early 1990s, Forbes’ estimates “were actually high” and he “deserved to be off [the list].”
  • That Trump, as I reported in the article, made an unsolicited suggestion for the headline of the 2015 story: “The King.”
Lane opted not to offer an opinion of the details that were discussed and, instead, said that he would "leave it to others to dissect what this means, or doesn’t."
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