James has led an investigation into Trump and his business for more than three years, a probe the former president has dismissed as a political witch hunt. When James deposed Trump last month as part of the investigation, the former president pleaded his Fifth Amendment rights hundreds of times.
The lawsuit targets the president, his business, and many associates. In addition to the former president, the lawsuit targets Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Allen Weisselberg, Jeffrey McConney, The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, The Trump Organization, Inc., and others, according to CNN.
James alleges that Trump, with help from his three eldest children and others, “used fraudulent and misleading asset valuations over 200 times in 10 years on his annual financial statements,” she said in a statement on social media after announcing her suit.
The lawsuit seeks to punish the targets with a $250 million penalty and a ban on operating any businesses in New York. James also seeks to ban Trump and the Trump organization from purchasing any real estate in New York for the next five years. The New York attorney general is also referring her investigation into Trump to the Department of Justice for criminal charges.
One of the allegations in the lawsuit claims that Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida golf resort and his current residence, was valued at $739 million. The resort’s valuation was about ten times greater than what it should have been valued at: roughly $75 million. The higher valuation was “based on the false premise that it was unrestricted property and could be developed for residential use even though Mr. Trump himself signed deeds donating his residential development rights and sharply restricting changes to the property,” the lawsuit says according to ABC News.
James’s investigation into Trump’s property valuations began shortly after she assumed office in January 2019. At the time, James had campaigned on investigating Trump and his business dealings.
“I’m running for attorney general because I will never be afraid to challenge this illegitimate president when our fundamental rights are at stake,” she stated in 2018.
Trump has attacked James investigation into his business and family as cynical attempt to raise James’s stature and take down Trump for political reasons. Eric Trump reiterated his father’s attacks on James Wednesday after her lawsuit announcement, tweeting out a video of James past statements about the former president, often referring to him as “illegitimate.”
Not a political “witch hunt?!” What a joke… pic.twitter.com/dzuGaW9vNy
— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) September 21, 2022