Former President Donald Trump asked a federal judge on Monday to make New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into his business practices immediately end.
According to a copy of a lawsuit that Trump filed in the Northern District of New York, Trump wants a judge to declare that James’s civil investigation “harness[es] state police power to retaliate against, injure, and harass a political opponent.”
It’s an outlandish attack on the investigation in which Trump adds new grievances to his endless litany: that the state AG has violated his first, fourth, and fourteenth amendment rights — and his civil rights — in examining his business practices.
The lawsuit also serves to weaponize via lawsuit the various attacks that Trump has launched against James. Both the suit and Trump describe James’ probe as a “witch hunt” and “harassment,” for example.
“For years, [James] has flagrantly abused her investigatory powers to target her political adversaries and advance her career,” the complaint reads. “Her relentless attacks on Donald J. Trump serve as a
James said last month that she was seeking a deposition of the former president under oath.
The focus of the investigation is on Trump and the Trump organization — both of whom are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. James’ investigation has taken place in parallel and, as of this year, in tandem with a criminal probe being run by the Manhattan District Attorneys’ Office.
The probes focus on whether Trump would inflate or deflate the book value of his real estate holdings for banks and tax authorities. Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen described the allegation in 2019 testimony to the House Oversight Committee.
Trump described the probe in the suit as a “thinly-veiled effort to publicly malign Trump and his associates,” saying that James was violating Trump’s due process and first amendment rights by conducting the probe.
The allegation that Trump would fudge the book value of his properties has been something of a white whale for investigators since Cohen first publicly made that claim. The House Oversight Committee has spent years litigating a subpoena to Trump’s accountant and lenders in connection with the allegation, while Vance and James’ probes have also extended since 2019.
But James upped the ante by demanding a deposition from Trump via subpoena.The lawsuit could not be more Trumpian in how it addresses James’ deposition request.
Attorneys for the former president describe a Dec. 15 episode of The View in which James appeared as a guest.
Frequent Trump bete noir Joy Behar is described as remarking on “reports that you are trying to depose Trump under oath next month, tell me that’s true.”
James, the lawsuit says, “put her personal disdain for Trump on full display by responding to Behar’s comment with laughter.”
Trump, a daytime television connoisseur, says that the excerpt constitutes evidence that James is deploying “state power to discriminate against, retaliate against and otherwise suppress the rights of free speech of Trump and his business.”
The lawsuit fits in with a long tradition of Trump flinging ridiculous allegations in various legal fora as part of a strategy to delay investigations that threaten him.
James said as much in a statement, describing the suit as an “attempted collateral attack on the probe.”
“Our investigation will continue undeterred because no one is above the law, not even someone with the name Trump,” she added.
Read the complaint here: