Former President Donald Trump sues New York Attorney General Letitia James over civil investigation – CBS New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork / AP) – Former President Donald Trump sued New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday, seeking to end a multi-year civil investigation into his business practices.

In the lawsuit, filed two weeks after James asked Trump to sit for a deposition on Jan. 7, Trump contends that the investigation into issues such as the valuation of his company’s assets violated his constitutional rights in a ” thinly veiled effort to publicly slander Trump and his associates.

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The lawsuit describes James, a Democrat, as having a “personal disdain for Trump” and points to many statements she has made against him in recent years, including her support for the “dying” protests against him, her bragging that his office continued its administration. 76 times and tweets during her 2018 campaign that she had “his eyes on the Trump Tower” and that Trump was “running out of time.”

“Her mission is guided only by political animosity and the desire to harass, intimidate and retaliate against a private citizen whom she considers to be a political opponent,” the former president’s lawyers wrote in the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Trump and his company, the Trump Organization.

James had announced her candidacy for governor of New York in late October, but earlier this month she suspended that campaign and cited ongoing investigations in her decision to be re-elected as attorney general of the State.

Trump, a Republican, seeks a permanent injunction barring James from investigating him and preventing him from being involved in any “civil or criminal” investigation against him and his company, such as a parallel criminal investigation of which she is a part and which is run by the Manhattan District. Lawyer Cyrus Vance Jr.

Trump is also seeking a declaratory judgment declaring that James violated his free speech and due process rights and that his investigation constitutes “inadmissible state action” to “retaliate against, harm and harass an opponent. political “, in violation of the Constitution.

In a statement, James said: “The Trump Organization has continually sought to delay our investigation into its trade relationship and now Donald Trump and his namesake company have filed a complaint as an attempted collateral attack on this investigation. “

“To be clear, neither Mr. Trump nor the Trump Organization can dictate whether and where they will answer for their actions. Our investigation will continue without being discouraged because no one is above the law, not even someone called Trump. “

News of the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Albany, was first reported by The New York Times.

James has spent more than two years investigating whether the Trump Organization has misled banks or tax officials about the value of assets – inflating them for favorable loan terms or downplaying them for savings tax.

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James investigators last year interviewed one of Trump’s sons, Eric Trump, an executive with the Trump Organization. His office went to court to enforce a subpoena against young Trump, and a judge forced him to testify after his lawyers abruptly quashed a previously scheduled deposition.

Trump’s trial did not explicitly mention James’ request for his testimony, other than a brief reference. But it is clear that he will not show up on January 7 on the date requested by James, to voluntarily answer questions. As with Eric Trump, James’ office will now likely have to issue a subpoena and go to a judge to order the former president to cooperate.

It is rare for law enforcement to issue a civil subpoena for the testimony of a person who is also the subject of a related criminal investigation, in part because the person under criminal investigation might just invoke the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Trump’s lawyers are unlikely to allow his impeachment unless they are sure his testimony cannot be used against him in a criminal case.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is conducting a parallel criminal investigation into Trump’s business dealings. Although the civil investigation is separate, James’ office was involved in both. Earlier this year, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. gained access to the longtime real estate mogul’s tax records after a years-long fight that twice went to the Supreme Court. the United States.

Vance, a Democrat who is stepping down at the end of the year, recently called a new grand jury to hear evidence as he questions whether he should seek more indictments in the inquiry, which resulted in tax evasion charges in July against the Trump organization and its longtime CFOs Allen Weisselberg.

Weisselberg has pleaded not guilty to the charges alleging that he and the company evaded taxes on lucrative employee benefits paid to executives.

Both investigations are at least in part linked to allegations made in news reports and by former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen that Trump had a habit of distorting asset values.

James’s office issued subpoenas to local governments as part of the civil investigation into the files relating to Trump’s upper Manhattan estate, known as Seven Springs, and a tax benefit Trump received for placing land in a conservation trust. Vance subsequently issued subpoenas requesting many of the same files.

James’ office also looked at similar issues with a Trump office building in New York City, a hotel in Chicago, and a golf course near Los Angeles. His office has also won a series of court rulings forcing Trump’s company and a law firm it hired to hand over treasure troves of documents.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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