Former President Donald Trump is suing New York Attorney General Letitia James in an attempt to halt her office’s investigation into his past business practices by framing the probe as politically motivated.
James has been investigating Trump for the last two years over claims that his company, the Trump Organization, overstated the value of its assets to secure more favorable financing.
That investigation was prompted, in part, by testimony before Congress from Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal attorney, who said Trump had inflated the size of his assets to secure financing from at least one bank before he took office.
It’s a civil investigation, meaning the New York Attorney General’s Office could bring noncriminal legal action against the former president. But her office has also teamed up with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which could bring criminal charges.
As of Monday, neither probe had resulted in criminal or civil action, but reporting has suggested that investigators are closing in on the inquiries.
Attorneys for Trump are trying to prevent that from happening, essentially labeling the investigations as selective by Democrats, who they say were driven by politics to launch the probes while the former president was in office.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Northern District of New York, seeks to bar the Attorney General’s Office from continuing its individual investigation into the former president.
“The investigations commenced by James 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,” the lawsuit reads.
“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.”
James responded to the challenge in a statement, saying it’s another attempt by Trump and his attorneys to stall her investigation as it moves toward its conclusion.
“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.
“To be clear, neither Mr. Trump nor the Trump Organization get to dictate if and where they will answer for their actions. Our investigation will continue undeterred because no one is above the law, not even someone with the name Trump.”
The 30-page complaint largely recounted points during which James has publicly spoken about Trump, including times she vowed to use the power of her office to pursue investigations into the former president and his family.
The lawsuit even invokes James’s short-lived campaign for governor, which she launched in late October and suspended earlier this month.
“In her announcement video, she boasted that she ‘sued the Trump Administration 76 times, but who is counting?’ In making this statement, Defendant signaled that she had planned to make ‘taking on Trump’ the centerpiece of yet another campaign,” the lawsuit reads.
Attorneys for Trump argued in the lawsuit that, based on her public statements against the former president, any litigation that results from her investigation into his company should be tossed due to a perceived lack of objectivity in the probe.
Legal precedent may not be on Trump’s side if history is any indication. Earlier this year, attorneys for Trump lost a bid to toss subpoenas from the Attorney General’s Office as part of its investigation.
Trump is represented by attorneys with Habba Madaio & Associates in the New York City metropolitan area.