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2 Feb, 2022 09:02

Trump tells court NY AG probe of his business is abuse of office

Letitia James’ investigation of the Trump Organization is politically motivated, the filing says
Trump tells court NY AG probe of his business is abuse of office

Former President Donald Trump and his family are trying to block subpoenas filed against them by New York Attorney General Letitia James in her office’s investigation of the Trump business empire. In a court filing on Tuesday, they argued that the probe is politically motivated and is aimed at scoring points for James as well as undermining Trump’s own political ambitions.

James’ office is looking into claims that the Trump Organization inflated the market value of its assets for various gains such as better terms for loans. Last month, she alleged that there was a pattern of fraudulent activities within the business. She asked a court to order Trump and his two children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, to cooperate with her investigation by testifying under oath.

The Trumps are aiming to block the subpoenas, arguing that James’ investigation is a political witch hunt. The 38-page filing with the Manhattan Supreme Court said the attorney general “improperly and repeatedly threatened investigation and prosecution of former President Trump and his family as a campaign promise to garner votes, money and support, and now, as Attorney General, to gain political support.”

The document cited various public statements by James, including a 2018 campaign ad in which she called Trump an “illegitimate president,” said he “should be charged with obstructing justice,” and could be “indicted for criminal offenses,” while expressing the view that the president should be removed from office.

Another piece of evidence cited by the filing is an email which James sent to her supporters last month, warning them that Trump “might win” the presidency in 2024. James is seeking reelection as attorney general in November. Trump is widely presumed to be the leading GOP candidate in the 2024 presidential race.

Trumps’ lawyers also took issue with the close coordination between the civil investigation led by James, and the criminal investigation into Trump’s business practices led by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, which he inherited from his predecessor when he took over this year.

The evidence indicates a lack of due fairness and that James has been on a fishing expedition to damage a political opponent rather than seeking justice, the filing claimed. Trump Jr. described her activities as “‘third-world’ prosecutorial misconduct” that is “truly embarrassing to the great state of New York.”

The attorney general dismissed the claims, saying it was the latest “baseless attempt by the Trump Organization and Donald J. Trump to evade accountability.” The statement said the Trumps did not question the legality of the investigation for over three years, but did so after the former president was compelled to testify.