Donald Trump, a former president, once epitomized the money, influence, and bold ambition of New York.
He represented the prosperity that could be attained in his city, with his name emblazoned in large gold letters on Manhattan buildings.
He won’t be allowed to do business in New York again if the state attorney general gets her way.
In the extensive lawsuit she filed on Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James accuses him of misrepresenting the worth of his assets by billions of dollars to receive advantageous loan terms and other financial perks.
Additionally, she wants to permanently exclude Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump from holding any corporate leadership positions in New York, depriving them of a commercial legacy in the state.
James implied that at least part of Trump’s riches and success were falsehoods in her news conference presenting the allegations.
James said, “Donald Trump fraudulently exaggerated his net worth by billions of dollars to unfairly enrich himself and to scam the system, so he cheated all of us.”
She pointed out that he exaggerated the size of his Trump Tower penthouse to be three times what it really was, and he fraudulently increased the value of his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago to $739 million by stating it was an uncontrolled piece of land that could be developed.
James claims that between 2011 and 2021, Trump and his business, the Trump Organization, participated in these activities to get better loan terms, less expensive insurance, fewer tax obligations, and other “great financial rewards.”
As a result, she is seeking $250 million from Trump and the other defendants, which she believes was gain unlawfully.
James’ lawsuit comes at a time when Trump is already under investigation by the federal government for handling confidential papers found in his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida by FBI agents, as well as for his conduct leading up to the attack on the Capitol on January 6.
However, in contrast to their inquiries, hers centered on his commercial behavior, which propelled him to stardom and paved his path to the White House.
In an interview with Sean Hannity that aired on Fox News on Wednesday night, Trump said that he didn’t believe James would file a lawsuit against him because “they had no case.”
On his social media platform Truth Social earlier on Wednesday, Trump claimed that James’ lawsuit was “another witch hunt,” adding that she “is spending all of her time fighting for very powerful and well-represented banks and insurance companies, who were fully paid, made a lot of money, and never had a complaint about me, instead of fighting murder and violent crime, which is killing New York State.”
An email to Alan Futerfas, a Trump Organization lawyer, requesting comment on James’s lawsuit was not answer.
In a statement, Trump’s attorney Alina Habba said that James’ agency had “exceeded its legislative power by snooping into transactions where absolutely no crime has taken place.”
Trump has long contended that political motives drove the criminal and civil investigations in New York.
James and Bragg are both Democrats, as are most of the state’s elect leaders, but they have both claim that their investigations were biase.
Trump was born in Queens, but his distance from his very blue state has grown due to politics. In 2016 and 2020, he lost New York by more than 20 percentage points. He received just 12% of the vote in Manhattan.
After departing the White House in 2019, Trump moved his residence to Florida.
However, his millions of committed fans in red and purple states hold the key to his political destiny.
Trump has hinted at running for president again in 2024, but it is unclear how his legal issues would affect him politically.
According to a recent NBC News survey, his support rating has fallen since the FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago.
But many of his most valuable possessions, such as Trump Tower, 40 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, a sizable estate in Westchester County, and other residences bearing the Trump name, are still in New York.
James is requesting the deletion of corporate certificates held by any firm managed by Trump that benefitted from the alleged fraud, as well as the exclusion of Trump and his kids from positions as corporate officers and directors in New York.
She said it would stop any businesses from doing business in New York.
Already scheduled for next month is a criminal tax fraud trial for the Trump Organization. Allen Weisselberg, the organization’s longstanding CFO, consented to testify for the prosecution as part of an agreement with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg after entering a guilty plea to comparable charges in August.
James filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, naming Weisselberg and other senior Trump Organization officials. She requests that he be bar from holding any official positions with the firm. Weisselberg’s attorney Nicholas Gravante refused to comment on James’ case.
James claimed that she began the investigation after Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime fixer and attorney, who has since turned out to be a fierce opponent of his former employer, testified to Congress in 2019 that the Trump Organization routinely manipulated asset valuations to obtain advantageous loans or tax benefits.
Her team examined hundreds of thousands of Trump Organization documents to support her claims and spoke with various workers and attorneys engaged in the company’s asset estimates.
In August, she also succeeded in removing Trump from office. Still, he quickly invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refused to respond to inquiries beyond confirming his identity.
It could be dangerous for him to use the Fifth. Because James’ lawsuit is a civil one as oppose to a criminal one, jurors would be permit to conclude that Trump’s reluctance to testify was a wrong decision. She has additional benefits when pursuing a civil complaint.
According to former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade, “In a civil lawsuit, she need only establish her case by a preponderance of the facts, not beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Using ignorance as a defense to escape culpability is more challenging due to the lower legal threshold.
However, the incident can lead to further criminal accusations. On Wednesday, James said she thought her inquiry had shown federal criminal responsibility and had sent the case to federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the Internal Revenue Service.
The US attorney’s office in Manhattan refused to comment, and the IRS said that it doesn’t confirm the existence of investigations until after filing court dockets’ worth of paperwork.
Based on her papers, the former federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Sarah Krissoff said James most certainly made a good recommendation.
According to Krissoff, the lawsuit “is basically an amazingly thorough road map of this alleged fraud.” “From a prosecutor’s perspective, it seems that they have built this case quite methodically by doing the work that has to be done here.”
New York v. Trump, 452564/2022, State of New York Supreme Court, County of New York (Manhattan).