January 17, 2022

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Trump Sues Letitia James in Bid to Stop Inquiry Into His Business – The New York Times

4 min read

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 suit, filed in federal court in Albany 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.

“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.

In a statement, Ms. James, a Democrat, said the lawsuit would not deter the inquiry.

“The Trump Organization has continually sought to delay our investigation into its business dealings,” the statement read. “To be clear, neither Mr. Trump nor the Trump Organization get to dictate if and where they will answer for their actions.”

If Ms. James were to find evidence of wrongdoing, she could file a lawsuit against Mr. Trump, but because it is a civil inquiry, she could not file criminal charges.

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.

A lawyer for Mr. Trump, Alina Habba, said in a statement that Mr. Trump’s lawsuit was an effort to stop Ms. James’s “bitter crusade to punish her political opponent in its tracks.”

The developments in the civil investigation come during a critical phase of a separate, criminal investigation into the former president being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

Mr. Trump’s suit seeks to bar Ms. James’s participation in the criminal investigation as well, arguing that the parallel civil and criminal probes are inappropriate.

That investigation, which Ms. James’s office is participating in, is centered on whether Mr. Trump defrauded lenders by inflating the value of his assets.

Mr. Vance leaves office at the end of the year and has not yet signaled whether his investigation will be handed to his successor, Alvin Bragg.

Ms. James’s civil investigation began in March 2019, and she has focused on some of the same aspects of Mr. Trump’s business as Mr. Vance.

But Mr. Trump’s lawsuit against Ms. James argues that her “longstanding animosity” toward the former president and his company has essentially tainted the investigation.

The lawsuit argues that Ms. James violated Mr. Trump’s constitutional rights, robbed the former president of due process and attempted to chill his political speech.

It highlights a long list of public criticism she has leveled at Mr. Trump over the years, including a 2017 tweet declaring that she was “leading the resistance against Donald Trump in NYC.”

The lawsuit contends that Ms. James, the New York City public advocate at the time, campaigned for attorney general in part on an anti-Trump agenda.

During the campaign, Ms. James often invoked Mr. Trump on Twitter and in fund-raising appeals, writing that, “New Yorkers need a fighter who will take on Donald Trump & stand up for our rights. I’ll be that fighter. Join my campaign.”

“I need your help in this fight against Donald Trump,” another message read.

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