- NY AG Letitia James said her office will ask federal prosecutors to probe Trump’s business practices.
- James’ office filed a sprawling civil lawsuit against the Trumps accusing them of fraud and seeking $250 million in penalties.
- The AG said she believes the conduct outlined “also violates federal criminal law,” including bank fraud and false statements.
The New York attorney general’s office has asked federal prosecutors to investigate former President Donald Trump’s business practices.
AG Letitia James made the announcement earlier Wednesday after filing a sprawling civil lawsuit against Trump, his three eldest children, and the Trump Organization.
The lawsuit accuses the former president of inflating his net worth and the Trump Organization of artificially inflating or deflating asset values for loan and tax purposes. State prosecutors are now seeking to permanently bar the Trumps from conducting business in New York and is pursuing $250 million in penalties.
James on Wednesday said her office believes the conduct outlined in the civil suit “also violates federal criminal law, including issuing false statements to financial institutions and bank fraud.” She said state investigators would refer the matter to the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service.
“Claiming to have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal,” James said, invoking the title of Trump’s 1987 memoir and business-advice book. “It’s the art of the steal.”
The former president put out a statement on Truth Social after the suit was filed, accusing James of being a “failed A.G. whose lack of talent in the fight against crime is causing record numbers of people and companies to flee New York.”
One of Trump’s defense attorneys, Alina Habba, also released a statement saying James’ office’s civil suit is “neither focused on the facts nor the law — rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda.”
Wednesday’s civil suit is the culmination of an aggressive, three-year probe by James, who in 2018 campaigned in part on the promise to investigate — and sue — Trump and his New York-incorporated real estate and golf resort empire.
The 280-page suit identified 23 assets, including Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in South Florida, which was also the location of last month’s FBI search that aimed to recover thousands of government records that may have been illegally moved from the White House to Trump’s property after he left office.
James said Wednesday that Mar-a-Lago is worth roughly $75 million but that Trump overvalued the property by tenfold, to as high as $739 million. The former president based that valuation “on the false premise that it sat on unrestricted property and could be developed for residential use,” James said.
However, she added, Trump had signed deeds “sharply restricting” changes to the property and knew that Mar-a-Lago was subject to “onerous” restrictions.