Trump sues New York attorney general in effort to block investigation of his real estate empire

Former president is facing legal threats on multiple fronts as he mulls another campaign

Andrew Naughtie,Andrew Feinberg
Monday 20 December 2021 20:19
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<p>Donald Trump</p>

Donald Trump

Donald Trump has launched a lawsuit against New York state Attorney General Letitia James in an attempt to halt a slow-burning probe into his real estate dealings.

The 30-page against Ms James, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of New York, alleges that the attorney general’s investigation into whether he or his businesses violated New York State law “is guided solely by political animus and a desire to harass, intimidate, and retaliate against a private citizen who she views as a political opponent”.

It also alleges that Ms James was responsible for “relentlessly pushing” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr into opening a criminal investigation into Mr Trump and his businesses. The former president has not faced any charges stemming from either probe, but Mr Vance’s office has obtained indictments against two Trump-owned corporations and longtime Trump organisation chief financial officer Alan Weisselberg for allegedly defrauding the government out of nearly $1 million of tax revenue by evading taxes paid on employee compensation.

The civil investigation is focused on allegations that Mr Trump and his associates may have deliberately over- and under-valued his real estate assets to reduce his tax burden and obtain favourable loan terms from lenders. Ms James, who has declined to run for governor in order to focus on her current job, said earlier this month that she is seeking Mr Trump’s personal testimony. A subpoena has been issued for his co-operation.

The probe into Mr Trump’s real estate empire is one of several slow-moving legal investigations that threaten to complicate the sometime president’s path in a future campaign for the White House, which he is widely thought to be considering.

Mr Trump has also spent years fighting a Congressional subpoena for his tax returns, a battle that he looks set to lose. A federal judge last week ruled that he was “wrong on the law” in his arguments that the case counted as undue political persecution.

In a statement, Ms James said the former president’s eponymous company “has continually sought to delay our investigation into its business dealings,” called the new lawsuit “yet another attack”.  

“Mr Trump doesn’t get to dictate this investigation. We will continue undeterred because no one is above the law,” she said.

A short time later, the former president issued a rambling response through his political action committee in which he addressed Ms James by her first name, exhorted his supporters to tell her: “she is not dealing with the Cuomo brothers,” and called her “nothing but a corrupt official doing the dirty work of your party” who “should not be in office”.

“Despite many years of investigation that nobody else could have survived even if they did things just slightly wrong, yours is just a continuation of the political Witch Hunt that has gone on against me by the Radical Left Democrats for years,” he said.

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