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Letitia James Makes Announcement On Investigation Into Trump Organization

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


New York’s Democratic attorney general, Letitia James, made a major announcement on Wednesday regarding former President Donald Trump and his Trump Organization.

In a press conference, James — whose office has been investigating Trump and his businesses for more than a year — announced that her office was suing the Trump Organization for $250 million, alleging numerous violations.

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“The wide-ranging lawsuit alleges decades of deception and relies on a statute for repeat violations of law. The suit stems from a 3.5 year investigation that began with Michael Cohen’s testimony to Congress alleging Trump inflated value of assets to win favorable financial deals,” noted Politico’s senior legal affairs reporter Kyle Cheney in a tweet.

James added: “The complaint demonstrates that Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us.”

Politico notes further:

The attorney general’s civil suit alleges more than a decade of deception, including billions of dollars in falsified net worth, as part of an effort to minimize his companies’ tax bills while winning favorable terms from banks and insurance companies. It seeks about $250 million in allegedly illegal profits netted from the scheme, as well as a five-year ban on the former president, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump participating in any real estate transactions–a restriction that would spell the end of the Trump real estate empire. In addition, it seeks a permanent ban on the former president and his family members involved in his business enterprises from serving as directors or officers of any New York corporation or business licensed in the state.

James’s suit relies on a special statute for repeat instances of alleged violations of the law, stemming from real estate transactions. She is also filing a criminal referral to federal prosecutors in Manhattan and a separate tax fraud referral to the IRS for the same underlying allegations.

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“I’m announcing that today we’re filing a lawsuit against Donald Trump for violating the law as part of his efforts to generate profits for himself, his family, his company,” James said, as she announced the action at a press conference in Manhattan Wednesday morning. “The complaint demonstrates that Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us.”

“The pattern of fraud that was used by Mr. Trump and the Trump organization was astounding,” James added. ″The number of grossly inflated asset values is staggering, affecting most if not all of the real estate holdings in any given year. All told, Mr. Trump, the Trump Organization, and the other Defendants, as part of a repeated pattern and common scheme, derived more than 200 false and misleading valuations of assets included in the 11 Statements covering 2011 through 2021.”

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Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and has also accused James of launching politically motivated investigations. To that point, James ran on a platform of going after Trump in 2018.

In August, Trump repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during questioning by James’ office.

“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” the former president said. “When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the Fake News Media, you have no choice.”

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“I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution,” Trump continued.

“If there was any question in my mind, the raid of my home, Mar-a-Lago, on Monday by the FBI, just two days prior to this deposition, wiped out any uncertainty,” he said.

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