WASHINGTON – Donald Trump sued New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday in what legal experts described as a longshot bid to block her investigation into his business practices.
The former president’s lawsuit alleges that James’ investigation is driven by “political animus.”
“The investigations commenced by James are in no way connected to legitimate law enforcement goals,” but are instead “a thinly-veiled effort to publicly malign Trump and his associates,” the lawsuit argues.
James’ civil inquiry focuses on whether the Trump Organization, the former president’s namesake real estate business, claimed false property valuations in its dealings with lenders and taxing authorities. It has been running parallel to a criminal inquiry involving both James and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.
Trump’s legal move comes just two weeks after news emerged that James’ office is seeking to depose Trump in the fraud inquiry. Trump has sued opponents and legal antagonists in previous court battles.
Legal analysts said Trump’s suit has virtually no chance of succeeding, and that the James civil investigation will proceed.
“This is a desperate ploy by a desperate man who can’t come to grips with his loss of presidential power,” said Bradley P. Moss, a national security attorney. “Whatever decision emerges from the AG’s investigation, it won’t be made on Mr. Trump’s timeline.”
Barb McQuade, a former federal prosecutor and a law professor at the University of Michigan, said Trump’s lawsuit will fail in part because no court will “intervene and subvert the role of the attorney general,” who is a member of another branch of government.
“The only reason to bring a suit like this is for a political talking point,” McQuade said.
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In a statement, James described the lawsuit as just another delaying tactic by Trump. “To be clear,” she said, “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.”
James’ investigation revolves around allegations that the Trump organization improperly reduced the estimated value of real estate holdings in order to cut its tax bills, and increased the estimated value of its holdings in order to secure loans and promote sales.
Trump has repeatedly accused James of political motives, citing reports that she was planning to run for governor. James announced this month that she would not run for higher office.
The New York state attorney general’s office is one of several entities investigating Trump. The Manhattan district attorney’s office in New York City is also looking at his past business dealings.
In addition, prosecutors in Georgia are investigating whether Trump illegally pressured state officials to change election results and reverse his loss in the state to President Joe Biden.
And a congressional committee is investigating what role Trump and his supporters played in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, an attempted insurrection designed to stop the certification of the electoral votes confirming Biden’s win.
Trump has also mounted a legal battle against the Jan. 6 committee, seeking to block the disclosure of White House documents.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson
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