New York’s attorney general is suing former President Trump and his three adult children, alleging business fraud.
The civil lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, is the culmination of a three-year investigation by the office of Attorney General Letitia James (D) into whether the former president’s company misled investors and tax authorities by inflating property values to get investments and subsequently deflating them to get tax and loan benefits.
The attorney general’s office is seeking $250 million in financial penalties and asking the court to, among other things, permanently bar Trump and his children — Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump — from serving as an officer or director in any corporation registered or licensed in the state.
The lawsuit also asks the court to bar Trump and the Trump Organization from entering into any real estate acquisition in New York or from applying for loans from any financial institution in the state for five years.
Trump “falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us,” James said at a press conference Wednesday.
James also noted that the former president was aided by former longtime Trump Organization executives Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney.
The group “repeatedly and persistently manipulated the value of assets to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company, to pay lower taxes, to satisfy continuing loan agreements and to induce insurance companies to provide insurance coverage for higher limits and at lower premiums,” James said.
James alleged the conduct was in violation of both state and federal criminal law.
Trump and his team engaged in a conspiracy to falsify business records, issue false financial statements and commit insurance fraud, James argued.
She said she’s referred the alleged federal law violations to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District for New York and the IRS.
Trump has dismissed what he called a “phony years-long crusade” against him and criticized James for the inquiry.
When he appeared before the attorney general’s office for questioning last month, Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and declined to answer questions.
The former president took to Truth Social on Wednesday to decry the lawsuit as “another Witch Hunt” and allege that James “campaigned on a ‘get Trump’ platform” and was pursuing the case for political reasons.
James “failed in her run for Governor, getting almost zero support from the public, and now is doing poorly against Law & Order A.G. candidate, highly respected Michael Henry,” he wrote. “I never thought this case would be brought – until I saw her really bad poll numbers.”
The former president also knocked the attorney general over crime rates in New York.
“As we all know, today’s filing has nothing to do with the facts or the law. Instead, it is about politics, pure and simple. Indeed, targeting Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization is exactly what Attorney General James said she would do while running for office,” a spokesperson for the Trump Organization told The Hill in a statement.
The spokesperson noted that James is up for reelection in this year’s midterms and called the lawsuit “an abhorrent abuse of power” that “sets a dangerous precedent” in New York and elsewhere.
“This is all about politics. Weaponizing her office to go after her political opponents!” Donald Trump, Jr. said on Twitter after the announcement. He shared a video with clips of James promising to go after Trump, captioned “The bullshit Dem witch-hunt continues!”
Eric Trump shared similar footage on Truth Social, writing “Letitia James is the most corrupt Attorney General in United States History – she campaigned on the promised to sue my father.”
An attorney for Trump also blasted the decision.
“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,” the Trump attorney, Alina Habba, said in a statement.
“It is abundantly clear that the Attorney General’s Office has exceeded its statutory authority by prying into transactions where absolutely no wrongdoing has taken place. We are confident that our judicial system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the Attorney General’s meritless claims,” Habba said.
James took to Twitter to outline the goals of the suit and argue that “there aren’t two sets of laws for people in this nation: former presidents must be held to the same standards as everyday Americans.”