Trump asks court to prohibit New York Attorney General from investigating him

Mr Trump claims Ms James’ long-running probe into his eponymous business is “in no way connected to legitimate law enforcement goals”

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Tuesday 11 January 2022 20:15 GMT
(Getty Images)

Lawyers for former president Donald Trump and his eponymous real estate company have asked a federal judge to bar New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ office from investigating them, or order the attorney general to recuse herself from any investigation into the Trump Organization.

The twice-impeached ex-president sued Ms James last month in hopes of stopping a long-running probe into whether he or his company violated New York tax laws.

The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of New York, claims Ms James’ efforts “are in no way connected to legitimate law enforcement goals, but rather, are merely a thinly-veiled effort to publicly malign Trump and his associates”.

On Monday, Mr Trump’s attorneys filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction which would “[stay] the Defendant’s and the Office of the New York Attorney General’s active civil investigation of Plaintiffs for the duration of this action and pending resolution thereof,” or would force Ms James to “recuse herself from involvement in any capacity” in the probe.

In their motion, the former president’s lawyers claim Ms James’ efforts to determine whether Mr Trump or his company have violated New York tax laws was started “out of political animus and for the purpose of harassing, threatening, intimidating and retaliating against [Mr Trump]” and cites public statements made during her first campaign for attorney general in which she pledged to “take on” Mr Trump, who was then the sitting president of the United States.

They further allege that the investigation, which they describe as “baseless” despite the fact that both the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer are facing criminal charges for allegedly violating tax laws, “is merely the realization of her pre- election promise to search far and wide for any possible evidence of wrongdoing” and subpoenas issued as part of the investigation are “unconstitutional in their own right” because they are “overly broad, irrelevant and unduly burdensome”.

Mr Trump’s lawyers also expressed particular opposition to recent subpoenas issued to his two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

The subpoenas, which Ms James’ office disclosed in court papers earlier this month, are part of the attorney general’s investigation into whether the Trump Organization defrauded the state of New York by undervaluing properties for tax purposes while inflating their valuations to use as collateral for loans.

Mr Trump’s attorneys have also claimed that Ms James’ probe into the Trump Organization violates the former president’s First Amendment rights based on her previous public statements and the fact that she “vehemently disfavors Trump’s political ideology, which is diametrically opposed to her own”.

It alleges that her conduct is meant to silence Mr Trump as a “political opponent” and is meant to retaliate against the former president for his protected political speech.

The Independent has contacted Ms James’ office for comment.

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