Former President Donald J. Trump filed a lawsuit on Monday against the New York State attorney general, Letitia James, seeking to halt her long-running civil investigation into his business practices and to bar her from participating in a separate criminal investigation.
The state probe is a “baseless” and “malicious” fishing expedition intended to harass Trump and violates his constitutional rights, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Albany, New York. James had been seeking to depose Trump under oath on Jan. 7 as part of the two-year investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The suit by Mr. Trump and his family real estate business, argues that Ms. James’s involvement in both inquiries has been politically motivated. It lists statements she has made that Mr. Trump’s lawyers argue are evidence of her bias against him.
Bloomberg reports the suit includes pages of what Trump describes as evidence of James’s political motivations for investigating him, including an August 2018 tweet she posted before she took office, commenting on Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen reportedly seeking a plea deal.
“You & your cronies aren’t above the law. Every day we’re getting closer to justice,” James said in the tweet. “Just wait until I’m in the Attorney General’s office.”
“For years, she has flagrantly abused her investigatory powers to target her political adversaries and advance her career,” Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, said in the complaint according to reporting by Bloomberg’s Erik Larson. “Her relentless attacks on Donald J. Trump serve as a prime example.”
“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,” the suit reads according to reporting by The New York Times.
"Letitia James targets President Trump with a callous disregard for the ethical and moral obligations she swore to abide by when she became attorney general," wrote Trump's lawyer, Alina Habba, in a statement, according to CNBC. "By filing this lawsuit, 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."
“Defendant’s actions, including but not limited to her abuse of criminal and civil process, the commencement of arbitrary fishing expeditions, and collective misconduct in targeting Plaintiffs in bad faith and solely for political purposes, deprived Plaintiffs of due process of law and impermissibly infringed upon their constitutional rights,” the lawsuit reads.
Mr. Trump’s lawsuit comes less than two weeks after Ms. James signaled that she would seek to question Mr. Trump under oath early next month, on the same day that she dropped out of the race for New York governor.
“I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general,” Ms. James said. “There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job.”
Mr. Trump’s lawyers said at the time that they would ask a judge to quash the subpoena, and they are still expected to do so in the coming days.
Bloomberg reports a major focus of James’s probe has been the Trump Organization’s appraisal of Seven Springs, a 212-acre estate in Westchester County, New York. Her office has been trying to determine whether the company gave an accurate valuation for the property when it served as the basis for about $21.1 million in tax deductions for donating a conservation easement for the 2015 tax year.
Trump’s 40 Wall Street skyscraper and his Chicago hotel are among the other properties being scrutinized in the attorney general’s probe.
The Trump Organization has long argued the investigations are politically motivated. In May, Trump issued a statement accusing James and Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr of being “possessed, at an unprecedented level, with destroying the political fortunes of President Donald J. Trump.”
New York AG Leticia James
Trump's lawyer Alina Habba
Trump tax returns
politically motivated prosecution