June 19, 2021

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New York Attorney General “investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity” – CBS News

3 min read

The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, which has for two years been conducting a civil probe into the Trump Organization, is now also looking into the company in a “criminal capacity,” according to a spokesperson for the office.

“We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan District Attorney. We have no additional comment at this time,” said spokesperson Fabien Levy.

The New York Attorney General’s office launched its civil probe in 2019 after Michael Cohen, former President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, testified to Congress. The initial focus was on whether the Trump Organization inflated the valuations of assets while seeking loans and insurance coverage and deflated the value of other assets to reduce tax liability.  

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has separately been pursuing a criminal investigation since 2018 and initially targeted hush-money payments made by Cohen during the 2016 presidential campaign to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Vance’s office has since indicated in court filings that the investigation has widened to look at possible crimes as wide-ranging as fraud and tax evasion.

The ex-president responded to the news of the criminal nature of the probe in a more than 900-word statement. 

“There is nothing more corrupt than an investigation that is in desperate search of a crime. But, make no mistake, that is exactly what is happening here,” Mr. Trump wrote, adding that New York officials are “possessed, at an unprecedented level, with destroying the political fortunes of President Donald J. Trump and the almost 75 million people who voted for him.”

The district attorney’s and attorney general’s offices have often crossed paths, including issuing subpoenas for financial information related to the same Trump properties. In February, Vance’s office issued subpoenas related to Mr. Trump’s Seven Springs Estate, in Bedford, N.Y. In an August 2020 court filing, the New York Attorney General’s office accused the Trump Organization of refusing “to produce records sufficient to show how a $21.1 million apparent tax deduction in connection with the Seven Springs conservation easement was reflected on applicable tax returns.” The two sides continue to litigate that dispute.

James’ office has secured depositions from several Trump Organization executives, including Eric Trump, Mr. Trump’s son and executive vice president of the organization, and Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer. Weisselberg’s former daughter-in-law, Jennifer Weisselberg, told CBS News that she has also been interviewed by James’ office. Two Assistant Attorneys General from James’ office have been assigned to work with the Manhattan District Attorney’s team on the case, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.

Vance’s office has been in repeated contact with Jennifer Weisselberg, who told CBS News that investigators with the district attorney’s office have sought information about Allen Weisselberg, her ex-husband Barry Weisselberg — also a Trump Organization employee — and documents related to their finances and benefits.

CNN first reported the news of the expanded probe. Attorneys for the Trump Organization and spokespeople for Mr. Trump did not reply to requests for comment.

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