New York Attorney General Letitia James sues Trump and The Trump Organization, seeking end to their business in the state and $250 million in relief
Alleging massive efforts to manipulate property valuations by former President Donald Trump, his three children and companies named after them, New York Attorney General Leticia James announced Wednesday that her office is suing them, demanding $250 million and a shutdown of their operations in the state. .
The 221-page complaint filed Wednesday by James’ office alleges that Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, as well as others who served as company executives at the Trump Organization, engaged in a years-long scheme to enrich themselves through inflation. Extensive property values spread across his international real estate empire.
“Claiming money you don’t have isn’t the art of a deal, it’s the art of theft,” James said at a news conference Wednesday. He added that the investigation involved interviews with more than 65 witnesses.
During the press conference, James said he wanted to dissolve Trump’s company, but later clarified that liquidation was not among the remedies sought by his office.
James’ office is asking a judge to revoke the Trump Organization’s business certificate, effectively barring it from doing business in New York. His office is seeking to permanently bar Trump and his children named in the lawsuit from serving as officers or directors of any New York business entity, including their family’s company. It is also requesting a five-year ban on Trump and companies from acquiring real estate in New York or applying for loans from any New York-based company.
In a statement to CBS News, Alina Habba, one of Donald Trump’s attorneys, said, “Today’s filing does not focus on the facts or the law — rather, it focuses solely on advancing the attorney general’s political agenda.”
“It is abundantly clear that the attorney general’s office exceeded its statutory authority by conducting transactions where there was absolutely no wrongdoing,” Habba said. “We are confident that our justice system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our clients against each of the Attorney General’s meritless claims.”
The complaint alleges more than 200 instances of false asset valuations against the company.
“The number of grossly inflated asset values is staggering, affecting most if not all real estate holdings in any given year,” James’ office wrote in the complaint.
It alleged that Trump and the company “used purposefully false assumptions and grossly improper methods with the intent and purpose of falsely and fraudulently inflating Mr. Trump’s net worth in order to obtain favorable financing terms from lenders and insurers.”
In one instance highlighted in the complaint, the state claims that Trump’s company said a dozen rent-stabilized apartments on Trump Park Avenue were listed in corporate documents as worth more than $49.5 million. In fact, the suit says, they were assessed a combined $750,000.
In another example, the complaint states that a property in suburban New York known as “Seven Springs” was appraised by a bank at $25 million, and the following year at $30 million. The indictment says Trump’s company’s financial filings value it at $291 million.
James’ office began its civil investigation in 2019 after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress, raising questions about whether the Trump Organization “issued fraudulent financial statements,” according to court filings related to the investigation. The primary focus of the investigation was whether the Trump Organization inflated the value of assets while seeking loans and insurance coverage and reduced the value of other assets to reduce tax liability.
It has turned into a massive investigation into dozens of Trump properties and financing of the Trump Organization over the years. Investigators in James’ office examined more than a million pages of documents and issued subpoenas to dozens of current and former executives who worked for the Trump Organization and other entities affiliated with it. Finally, in August, Trump and his two children — Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. — took the stand after nearly a year-long battle.
Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer hundreds of questions.
The investigation was conducted as a “special proceeding,” with a New York judge presiding over years of contentious disputes over subpoenas and other challenges to often public filings and hearings.
The proceedings have made public developments that might otherwise have remained confidential, such as a letter sent to the company in February by its longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, severing ties with the Trump Organization and saying a decade’s worth of its financial statements “should no longer” be relied upon. “
In court, attorneys from James’ office described an effort to finance properties from Los Angeles to Scotland. They have repeatedly said their investigation found evidence that Trump and his company “fraudulently” valued multiple assets and “misrepresented” those values to financial institutions they partnered with.
Attorneys for the Trump Organization denounced the hearing and filing effort as an unprecedented “fishing operation.”
The agency has repeatedly tried to shut down the investigation and shield Trump from depositions but has been rebuffed each time by a New York court that has ruled the investigation and its subpoenas are legal.
Trump and his company have repeatedly denied all allegations of wrongdoing, calling it a “witch hunt” and a “political crusade.” Trump’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit comes as Trump and company face mounting legal jeopardy. The Trump Organization is being arraigned in a criminal trial on October 24 in Manhattan, where it will fight charges of fraud and tax evasion. The company has pleaded not guilty in the case.
Trump is at the center of at least two federal investigations – a grand jury probe into his alleged role in the January 6, 2021 attacks on the US Capitol and a separate probe into his handling of documents labeled “top secret”. Found at his home in Florida. He is also the focus of a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, which is investigating Trump’s conduct after he lost the 2020 election.