Politics

Trump sues New York attorney general to block fraud probe


The lawsuit filed in a federal court in upstate New York claims that Letitia James, a Democrat, is violating Trump’s constitutional rights with a politically motivated investigation.

FILE: Former US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One before departing Harlingen, Texas on 12 January 2021. Picture: AFP

NEW YORK – Former president Donald Trump sued New York’s attorney general on Monday in an attempt to stop her years-long civil probe into his business dealings, a court filing showed.

The lawsuit filed in a federal court in upstate New York claims that Letitia James, a Democrat, is violating Trump’s constitutional rights with a politically motivated investigation.

“Her mission 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,” it said.

James is probing whether the Trump Organization may have illegally reported false values on its properties, potentially to gain banking and tax advantages.

In a statement released Monday, James described Trump’s lawsuit as “an attempted collateral attack” on the probe.

“Our investigation will continue undeterred because no one is above the law, not even someone with the name Trump,” she said.

Trump’s lawsuit comes after the Washington Post reported earlier this month that James had asked him to testify in person at her office on 7 January.

She launched the investigation in March 2019 and suspects that the Trump Organization fraudulently overstated the value of certain properties when seeking bank loans, and later reported much smaller values when declaring assets so it could pay less tax.

Trump’s son Eric, who is executive vice president of the Trump Organization, was interviewed by James’ office on the issue in October 2020.

The former president is facing pressure from several legal probes.

He was questioned for more than four hours on 18 October as part of a lawsuit by a group of protestors who allege that his security guards assaulted them six years ago.

The Trump Organization is also under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney for possible financial crimes and insurance fraud.

In July, the Trump Organization and its long-serving finance chief, Allen Weisselberg pleaded not guilty in a New York court to 15 felony fraud and tax evasion charges.

That trial will begin in mid-2022.

Trump meanwhile is battling to prevent years of his tax returns from being released to prosecutors.

And in Washington he is trying to prevent a congressional probe into the 6 January attack by his supporters on the US Capitol from accessing White House records related to that day.





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