After a three-year investigation, New York’s Democratic Attorney General Letitia James filed a civil lawsuit against former President Donald Trump on Wednesday. At a press conference, James said, “The complaint demonstrates that Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself, to cheat the system,”
In a statement posted on the Truth Social media site, Trump called the lawsuit “another witch hunt” and said that it was started because James was running for reelection. “She is a fraud who campaigned on a ‘get Trump’ platform,” Trump wrote. The lawsuit also goes after longtime members of Trump’s executive team, like Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, who are all members of his family.
In response to the lawsuit, Donald Trump Jr. posted a video of James along with an expletive on Twitter and wrote, “The bullshit Dem witch-hunt continues!” Eric Trump also accused James of a partisan attack on his father in a post on the Truth Social media site. He said, “Letitia James is the most corrupt Attorney General in United States History — she campaigned on the promised to sue my father.
James said at her press conference that she knew her lawsuit would be called political. She said that her three-year investigation of Trump “only started after Michael Cohen, his former lawyer, testified before Congress about this conduct. James says that Trump’s business “repeatedly and consistently manipulated the value of assets” to get better loan terms from banks and pay fewer taxes.
James said, “This conduct was all in violation of” The suit would make it illegal for Trump to do business in New York. James is asking for about $250 million in fines and wants Trump, his kids, and management team members to be banned from running businesses in New York state for good. The lawsuit also wants to make it illegal for the former president and his group to buy commercial property in New York for the next five years.
This lawsuit was filed in civil court, but James also said that Trump’s business broke state and federal criminal laws. She said that the U.S. Justice Department is being told about the crime. “In short, he lied to gain massive financial benefits for himself,”
James said in a Twitter post. During the press conference, James said that when Trump was being investigated, he repeatedly used his 5th Amendment rights to get out of testifying under oath. She also said that before Wednesday’s news, her office had turned down a settlement offer from Trump and his organization.
How Trump’s supposed plan worked
James explained Trump’s allegedly fraudulent business practices, such as “representing that Mr. Trump had cash on hand that he did not have” and “egregiously” inflating the market value of his properties in New York and Florida. In the lawsuit, the property at 40 Wall Street in Manhattan that Trump owns is used as an example.
Professional appraisers reportedly told Trump’s team more than once that the property was worth between $200 million and $220 million. Then, the lawsuit says, the Trump organization lied about the property’s value in statements, putting it at more than $500 million, to get unfair advantages with lenders and insurers who did business with Trump’s company.
James says that the behavior was a form of fraud and was not done by accident. The lawsuit says, “The inflated asset valuations in the statements cannot be brushed aside or excused as merely the result of exaggeration,” “Rather, they are the result of the defendants utilizing objectively false assumptions and blatantly improper methodologies.”
When you post on Truth Social, Trump said that James was “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…” Trump called James “racist” and called her “Peekaboo” James. James is black.
Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, is also being sued. NPR asked Weisselberg’s lawyer, Mary Mulligan, for a comment, but she refused. Trump, his business, and his family have had many legal and financial problems in the past, and the lawsuit that was filed Wednesday is just the latest one.
The Manhattan district attorney will bring a separate criminal case against Trump’s company and Weisselberg next month. Weisselberg has pleaded guilty to a number of felonies as part of this process, and he is expected to testify.