Trump sued by New York Attorney General Letitia James


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Jack Perdue, Contributor

New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump on Sept. 19, alleging he lied to investors by overstating the value of many of his properties. The suit implicates not only the former President but also his two eldest sons and his business, The Trump Organization. If found guilty of fraud, as James claims, the Trump family would be barred from doing business in the state of New York.

Beyond the state charges, James also concluded that Trump “plausibly” broke federal law as well, and referred charges to federal prosecutors in Manhattan. “The number of grossly inflated asset values is staggering, affecting most if not all of the real estate holdings in any given year,” the lawsuit states. The scope of the case refers to a handful of Trump properties including 40 Wall Street, and his flagship Fifth Ave. skyscraper, Trump Tower.

In response to the lawsuit, The Trump Organization released a statement defending the valuation of its properties and maintained that its investors “profited handsomely, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in interest and fees.” Trump lawyer Alina Habba stated, “Today’s filing is neither focused on the facts nor the law—rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda.”

Following James’ announcement, Trump lashed out at the New York official on his social media platform, Truth Social, calling her “grossly incompetent” and “racist.”

“Another Witch Hunt by a racist Attorney General, Letitia James, who failed in her run for Governor, getting almost zero support from the public,” Trump posted. “I never thought this case would be brought—until I saw her really bad poll numbers.”

Fraud accusations are only the latest troubles periling The Trump Organization. On Aug. 18, former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty to 15 felonies related to tax fraud during his time with the company. As part of the plea bargain, Weisselberg agreed to pay $2 million back in taxes and serve a five-month prison sentence. “Today Allen Weisselberg admitted in Court that he used his position at the Trump Organization to bilk taxpayers and enrich himself,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

In August, before the official legal filing, Trump was required to sit for a deposition with New York officials, however, he pled the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer any questions during the four-hour proceeding. “While we will not comment on specific details, we can confirm that today, our office conducted a deposition of former president Donald Trump,” a spokesperson for the Attorney General said.

“Letitia James took part in the deposition during which Mr. Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Attorney General James will pursue the facts and the law wherever they may lead. Our investigation continues.”

The New York fraud case is only one of the many investigations Donald Trump is facing at the moment. In August, following a raid of the former President’s Floridian golf resort, Mar-a-Lago, the FBI launched a criminal investigation into Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified government documents.

Trump is also under investigation by prosecutors in Georgia after officials claimed he and his allies tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state after it was declared that current President Joe Biden had won.

Increased legal scrutiny has turned Trump’s attention away from the approaching midterm elections and muddied his political future. While he hasn’t formally announced his run for president in 2024, he has dropped hints about returning to the White House. A YouGov poll from September showed that Trump is still the favorite to become the Republican presidential nominee in 2024 edging out his nearest competitor, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis by 12 points.

“Claiming you have money you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal,” James said. “It’s the art of the steal, and there cannot be different rules for different people in this country or in this state. And former presidents are no different.”

While the trial likely won’t occur until well into 2023, the lawsuit presents an unprecedented instance of charges being brought against a former President, alongside the ongoing investigation into classified documents seized by the FBI from his Mar-a-Lago residence.