Trump sues to stop New York Attorney General investigating him for fraud

The suit calls Letitia James' investigation "a thinly-veiled effort to publicly malign Trump and his associates"

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published December 20, 2021 1:26PM (EST)

Donald Trump and Letitia James (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Letitia James (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Donald Trump on Monday filed a lawsuit against Letitia James, the New York attorney general probing Trump's business practices, claiming that her entire investigation is politically motivated. 

The suit, filed in federal court in upstate New York and first reported by The New York Times, broadly claims that James' civil inquiry violates Trump's constitutional rights and specifically asks a judge to put an end to the proceeding. The attorney general's mission, the suit says, "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."

"The investigations commenced by James are in no way connected to legitimate law enforcement goals, but rather, are merely a thinly-veiled effort to publicly malign Trump and his associates," he suit adds.

According to CNBC, the offensive "paints Trump, his family and his business as victims of a 'bitter crusade' by James, who has 'tirelessly bombarded' them with 'unwarranted' subpoenas."

Trump's lawyer, Alina Habba, further claimed that James "has short changed the state by commencing this partisan investigation and has forever tarnished the sanctity of her office."

RELATED: New York Attorney General eyeing early January deposition of Trump: report

"By filing this lawsuit," Habba added, "we intend to not only hold her accountable for her blatant constitutional violations, but to stop her bitter crusade to punish her political opponent in its tracks."

Several pages of the suit reportedly includes James' past criticism of Trump over social media.

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The former president has sought to cast doubt over the probe's legitimacy since its inception two years ago, repeatedly claiming that it's a political "witch hunt."

James' probe is reportedly looking into whether the Trump Organization committed financial fraud by overvaluing its properties to take advantage of underserved loans and tax breaks. Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that James is seeking a deposition with Trump himself. Last October, James deposed the former president's son, Eric Trump, the executive vice president of the Trump Organization.

James' office still has yet to personally charge Trump with any criminal wrongdoing, though Trump has reportedly expressed concerns over James' probe to members of his inner circle. 

James' two-year probe exists alongside a separate criminal investigation led by Manhattan District Attorney Cryus Vance, who is similarly looking into the Trump Organization's business practices. However, Vance has already charged the firm with running a 15-year tax evasion scheme for certain high-ups, namely former executive Allen H. Weisselberg, who failed to report $1.7 million worth of company perks. 

RELATED: Manhattan DA convenes new grand jury in Trump Organization probe

Trump has suggested that Vance and James are working "hand-in-hand," though the two investigations are being conducted separately. 

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

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