New York’s attorney general indicted former President Donald Trump and his company on Wednesday for alleged business fraud involving some of his most valuable assets, including properties in Manhattan, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Attorney General Leticia James’ lawsuit, filed in New York state court, is the culmination of a three-year civil investigation by Democrats into Trump and the Trump Organization.
watch outNew York Attorney General James filed civil fraud charges against Trump and the children
Three of Trump’s adult children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump, are also named as defendants, along with two longtime company executives, Allen Weiselberg and Jeffrey McConnell.
The lawsuit seeks to strike at the core of what made Trump famous, casting a dark light on the image of wealth and affluence he embraced throughout his career — first as a real estate developer, then as a reality TV host on “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity,” and later as president.
The James Democrat announced details of the lawsuit in a press release Wednesday. The case appeared in court on Wednesday morning.
James Trump has “falsely inflated his fortune by billions of dollars.”
The attorney general’s office said the goal was to burnish Trump’s image as a billionaire and that the value of his assets created benefits for doing so.
“This investigation reveals that Donald Trump engaged in illegal activity over the years to increase his wealth, defraud the banks and the people of the state of greater New York,” James said at a news conference. “To say you have money you don’t have is not the art of the deal. It is the art of stealing.”
James is seeking to remove Trump from businesses involved in the alleged fraud and appoint an independent watchdog for at least five years to oversee the Trump Organization’s compliance, financial reporting, valuations and disclosures to creditors, insurers and tax authorities.
She wants to replace the trustees of Trump’s revocable trust, which oversees his business interests, with independent trustees, barring Trump and the Trump Organization from buying commercial real estate for five years, barring loans from New York banks. Five years and Trump and his three adult children are prohibited from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation or similar business entity registered and/or licensed in New York State.
She seeks to permanently bar Weiselberg and McConney from serving in any financial supervisory capacity at any New York corporation or similar business entity registered and/or licensed in New York State.
James said her investigation uncovered criminal violations including falsifying business records, filing false financial statements, insurance fraud, conspiracy and bank fraud. She said her office is forwarding those findings to federal prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service.
Trump’s attorney, Alina Haba, said the indictment “is not focused on fact or law — it is focused solely on advancing the attorney general’s political agenda.”
“It is very clear that the Attorney General’s Office has exceeded its statutory authority by entering into transactions where no offense has occurred,” Haba said. “We are confident that our justice system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of power, and we look forward to protecting our clients from each and every attorney general’s frivolous claims.”
James’ lawsuit comes amid unprecedented legal challenges to the former president, including an FBI investigation into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
The Trump Organization is set to go on trial in October on criminal charges that it planned to give tax-free benefits to top executives, including its longtime finance chief Weiselberg, who alone took more than $1.7 million in extra.
Weiselberg, 75, pleaded guilty Aug. 18. The plea agreement calls for him to testify at the company’s hearing before the five-month prison sentence begins. The Trump Organization could be fined twice as much for unpaid taxes if convicted.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been conducting a parallel criminal investigation into the same businesses at the heart of James’ civil suit. That investigation lost momentum earlier this year after Bragg raised internal questions about whether a criminal case was viable, but the Democrat said he hasn’t given up.
At the same time, the FBI continues to investigate Trump’s hoard of sensitive government documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, and a special grand jury in Georgia is investigating whether he tried to influence Trump and other state election officials.
All of the legislative drama is playing out ahead of the November midterm elections as Republicans try to take control of one or both houses of Congress.
Meanwhile, Trump They are laying the groundwork for a 2024 comeback campaign and have accused President Joe Biden’s administration of targeting them to hurt their political chances.
State law allows for a wide range of civil remedies against companies that commit business fraud, including revoking a license to do business in the state, firing company officers and forcing them to pay restitution or misappropriation of profits.
James’ office could bar Trump from participating in certain types of business, as a judge in January banned former drug company CEO Martin Shkreli from the pharmaceutical industry for life.
In a previous feud with Trump, James oversaw the shutdown of the Trump Foundation, a charity that former Attorney General Barbara Underwood accused of misusing its assets to settle business disputes and promote white supremacy. at home. A judge ordered Trump to pay $2 million to various charities to settle the case.
James, who campaigned as a Trump critic and protégé, began investigating his business dealings in March 2019 after his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, testified to Congress that Trump overstated his wealth in financial disclosures to Deutsche Bank when he was trying to get funding. To buy the NFL Buffalo Bills.
Since then, James’ office and Trump’s lawyers have repeatedly ignored the direction of the investigation and Trump’s refusal to subpoena his testimony and records. Trump has spent months fighting the subpoena that led to his August impeachment, with lawyers unable to convince courts that he should be excused from testifying because his answers could be used in Bragg’s criminal investigation.
In May, Trump paid a $110,000 fine after he was in contempt of court for being slow to respond to subpoenas from James’ office seeking documents and other evidence. The contempt result was lifted in June after Trump and his lawyers filed papers showing they made a good-faith effort to obtain the relevant documents.