New York Attorney General Letitia James sues Trump and The Trump Organization, seeking end to their business in the state and $250 million in relief
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday that her office is suing them for $250 million and to terminate their operations in the state. .
“As part of this lawsuit, we are trying to dissolve these companies,” James said at a news conference on Wednesday.
In a 221-page complaint filed Wednesday, James’ office said Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, as well as others who had worked in Trump The Trump Group executives were involved in a years-long program to enrich themselves with exaggeration. The value of a large number of properties, spread across his international real estate empire.
“The art of claiming you have money but not having money doesn’t constitute the art of the deal, it’s the art of stealing,” James said, adding that the investigation involved interviews with more than 65 witnesses.
James’ office asked a judge to revoke the Trump Organization’s business credentials, effectively barring it from doing business in New York. Her office is seeking a permanent ban on Trump and the children named in the lawsuit from serving as officers or directors of any business entity in New York, including their family’s companies. It also calls for a five-year ban on Trump and the company from buying real estate in New York or applying for loans from any New York-based company.
In a statement to CBS News, Donald Trump’s attorney, Alina Haba, said, “Today’s document focuses neither on the facts nor the law — but only on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda.”
“It is clear that the Attorney General’s Office has exceeded its statutory authority by snooping on transactions in which absolutely no wrongdoing has occurred,” Haba said. Look forward to defending our clients against each of the Attorney General’s baseless allegations.”
The complaint alleges more than 200 incidents of false asset valuations at the company. In one example highlighted in the complaint, James’ office said Trump’s company said more than a dozen rent-stabilized apartments on Trump Park Avenue were listed in company filings as being worth more than $49.5 million. In fact, James’ office said their valuation totaled $750,000.
James’ office opened a civil investigation in 2019 after Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress, questioning whether the Trump Organization “published fraudulent financial statements,” according to court documents related to the investigation. The investigation initially focused on whether the Trump Organization inflated asset valuations when seeking loans and insurance coverage, and reduced the value of other assets to reduce tax liability.
It grew into a sweeping investigation into dozens of Trump properties and the Trump Organization’s multi-year finances. Investigators in James’ office examined more than a million pages of documents and issued subpoenas to dozens of current and former executives working for the Trump Organization and other companies with ties to it. Finally, in August, Trump and his two children — Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. — sat down for testimony after nearly a year of bickering.
Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination and declined to answer hundreds of questions.
The investigation is being conducted as a “special procedure,” in which a New York judge presided over a multi-year dispute over subpoenas and other public filings and challenges in hearings.
The proceedings have exposed developments that would otherwise be kept secret, such as a letter sent to the company in February by its longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, in which it severed ties to the Trump Organization and said its ten-year financial Reports “should no longer be relied upon.”
In court, lawyers in James’ office described efforts to resolve the financial problems of properties from Los Angeles to Scotland. They have repeatedly said their investigation found evidence that Trump and his company “fraudulently” valued multiple assets and “misrepresented” those values to the financial institutions they work with.
Lawyers for the Trump Organization denounced the hearing and filing efforts as an unprecedented “fishing expedition.”
The company has repeatedly tried to stop the investigation and protect Trump from testimony, but each time it was rejected by a New York court that ruled that the investigation and its subpoena were legal.
Trump and his company have repeatedly denied all allegations of wrongdoing, calling them a “witch hunt” and a “political crusade.” Trump’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit comes at a time of growing legal risk for Trump and the company. The Trump Organization will face a criminal trial in Manhattan on Oct. 24 and will battle charges of fraud and tax evasion. The company has pleaded not guilty in the case.
Trump is at the center of at least two federal investigations — a grand jury probe into his alleged role in the events leading up to the Jan. “A separate investigation of the documents was found at his home in Florida. He was also the focus of a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, that is investigating Trump’s conduct following his 2020 election defeat.