Former president Donald Trump this week moved to hamper investigations into his business practices with a lawsuit against New York State attorney general Letitia James.
The lawsuit filed in federal court Monday on behalf of Trump and his family real estate business aims to end her civil inquiry, as well as stop her from being involved in a different criminal investigation, the New York Times reported. The suit alleges James is motivated by a political bias against Trump.
“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 lawsuit read, according to the Times.
James dismissed the suit’s allegations in a statement released Monday, saying the move was the latest from the Trump Organization “to delay our investigation.”
“To be clear, neither Mr. Trump nor the Trump Organization get to dictate if and where they will answer for their actions,” James said. “Our investigation will continue undeterred because no one is above the law, not even someone with the name Trump.”
Legal experts told the Times that Trump’s argument is likely to fail, as there is no constitutional protection against political bias for a prosecutor, but Trump could try to prove James abused her office. The former president previously failed to stop Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance from issuing a subpoena for Trump’s tax returns under the argument of political harassment.
Both James and Vance are leading inquiries into how the Trump Organization developed and reported property valuations. Prosecutors are eyeing at least four properties, including three in New York.
In Vance’s investigation, prosecutors recently questioned a former accountant of the president before a grand jury. The grand jury could ultimately weigh criminal charges, though prosecutors would need to show intent to prove a crime due to the subjective nature of real estate valuations; it is a felony in New York to falsify business records or file false documents with the government.
James could file a civil lawsuit against Trump if she finds evidence of wrongdoing in her probe, which started almost three years ago. She would not be able to file criminal charges in the case, according to the Times.
[NYT] — Holden Walter-Warner