New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) sued former President Donald Trump, the Trump Organization and his children Wednesday in state court, after a years-long civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s financial dealings, alleging Trump and his associates committed numerous acts of fraud and should be barred from leading any companies in New York in the future.
The lawsuit was filed in New York State Supreme Court against Trump, the Trump Organization, Eric Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust and other Trump businesses and associates.
James alleges Trump and his associates “engaged in numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation” when they prepared Trump’s financial statements between 2011 and 2021 in order to “injustly enrich himself,” arguing the fraudulent documents “were approved at the highest levels of the Trump Organization—including by Mr. Trump himself.”
Trump and his associates allegedly repeatedly inflated assets to obtain more favorable business deals and inflate his own net worth, the lawsuit alleges, claiming there were “more than 200 false and misleading valuations of assets” over the course of 10 years.
James alleges Trump and his associates’ conduct violated both civil and “a host of” criminal state laws related to fraud and issuing false financial statements.
The lawsuit asks the court to cancel certificates for Trump’s businesses, impose more oversight on the Trump Organization, bar Trump from engaging in any commercial real estate acquisitions for five years, block him and his children from serving as an officer or director in any New York business and force the defendants to pay an approximately $250 million fine, among other penalties.
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In addition to the state laws the AG alleges Trump and his associates violated, the lawsuit also suggests the alleged misconduct may have violated federal laws regarding fraud. James said her office has therefore referred its findings to federal prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service, suggesting Trump could be criminally prosecuted in federal court as well if they take up the case.
Trump has heavily opposed James’ investigation and decried it as being politically motivated. He sued the AG in federal court last year in an effort to stop her investigation, which he argued was “guided solely by political animus and a desire to harass, intimidate, and retaliate against a private citizen who she views as a political opponent,” but the case was dismissed in May.
James’ office first opened its civil investigation into the Trump Organization in March 2019 after ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen testified to Congress that Trump had fraudulently inflated or deflated the value of his assets on financial statements for personal gain, and the office expanded its efforts in May 2021 to include a separate criminal probe. James previously alleged in court filings her office had found “significant” evidence of alleged fraud. The investigation has been fraught with conflict as Trump and his children have fought subpoenas to testify in court, and Trump was held in contempt of court and forced to pay $100,000 in fines before ultimately complying with the subpoena. The AG deposed Trump in August, during which he refused to answer questions and invoked his Fifth Amendment rights. In addition to Trump’s deposition, Eric Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump all testified during the investigation, with Donald Jr. and Ivanka reportedly answering investigators’ questions while Eric invoked his Fifth Amendment rights. James had been widely expected to bring her lawsuit against Trump soon after his deposition, and the New York Times reported last week the AG’s office had rejected a settlement offer from Trump’s attorneys, paving the way for her to imminently file suit against him.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has also been investigating the Trump Organization since July 2019. The Manhattan probe has so far not resulted in any charges against Trump himself—and it’s unclear if it will—but the Trump Organization and its former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg were indicted for tax fraud in July 2021 in connection with the investigation. Weisselberg has pleaded guilty to the charges against him and took a plea deal, which will result in a five-month prison sentence, while the case against the Trump Organization will go to trial in October.
This story is breaking and will be updated.