Former President Donald Trump sued New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday in a bid to halt what he labeled a “witch hunt” targeting his family’s real estate company.
The lawsuit, filed in Albany federal court, claims James’ two-year-long probe into the Trump Organization is politically motivated and asks a judge to put a stop to it.
In the filing, Trump’s legal team claims that investigations launched by James’ office “are in no way connected to legitimate law enforcement goals, but rather, are merely a thinly-veiled effort to publicly malign Trump and his associates.
“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 document adds.
The lawsuit comes less than two weeks after reports indicated James would subpoena Trump to answer questions under oath on Jan. 7. The same day reports of the subpoena emerged, James suspended her nascent campaign for governor, saying she would run for a second term as state AG instead.
The former president slammed James last week, accusing her of “prosecutorial misconduct” in the investigation.
“Letitia James wants to politically weaponize her position as Attorney General instead of exemplifying impartiality and protecting the interests of all New Yorkers,” the 45th president said in an emailed statement.
Monday’s filing from Trump’s team echoes past statements the former president has made about the state’s attorney general. It includes an aside lamenting that “rather than diligently prosecuting actual crimes in the State of New York — which are steadily on the rise — James has instead allocated precious taxpayer resources towards a frivolous witch hunt.”
It also cites numerous criticisms James made of Trump before she was elected state attorney general in 2018, during her campaign for that office, and after she was inaugurated.
“In sum, Defendant [James] promised to investigate Trump dozens of times over seven months, all before she ever assumed office or was privy to a single fact known to law enforcement,” the document reads. “Defendant did not state a legal or factual basis for such promises. She could not. After all, her knowledge of Trump’s business activities was no greater than that of any other citizen. Rather, her only justification for the forthcoming investigation was her political opposition to Trump.”
James is looking into whether Trump widely overvalued the Trump Organization’s assets to obtain loans and undervalued them for tax purposes.
“The Trump Organization has continually sought to delay our investigation into its business dealings and now Donald Trump and his namesake company have filed a lawsuit as an attempted collateral attack on that investigation,” James said in a statement Monday.
“To be clear, neither Mr. Trump nor the Trump Organization get to dictate if and where they will answer for their actions,” she added. “Our investigation will continue undeterred because no one is above the law, not even someone with the name Trump.”
While the state AG’s probe is a civil matter, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is conducting a criminal investigation into the company’s business practices.