N.Y. Attorney General Outlines Pattern of Possible Fraud at Trump Business

Lawyers for Mr. Trump and his company did not respond to requests for comment.

Because Ms. James’s investigation is civil, she can sue Mr. Trump and his company but cannot file criminal charges. Her inquiry is running parallel to a criminal investigation led by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, which is examining some of the same conduct. Ms. James’s office is participating in that separate investigation, which is continuing. Mr. Bragg, also a Democrat, inherited the inquiry from his predecessor after taking office on Jan. 1.

In early December, Ms. James issued a subpoena for Mr. Trump as well as for Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, seeking to question them as part of her civil inquiry. Ms. James already questioned another of Mr. Trump’s sons, Eric Trump, in October 2020. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against incriminating himself in response to more than 500 questions, the new court filing said.

After receiving the subpoenas, lawyers for Mr. Trump filed a federal lawsuit seeking to halt Ms. James’s civil investigation and to bar her office from participating in the district attorney’s criminal investigation. The lawsuit, which accused Ms. James of violating Mr. Trump’s constitutional rights, argued that her investigation was politically motivated and cited a long list of her public attacks on Mr. Trump.

This month, Mr. Trump’s lawyers also filed court papers in New York State seeking to block Ms. James’s subpoenas, prompting her filing on Tuesday.

Ms. James, who is running for re-election this year, argued in the court papers that while her office had compiled evidence that Mr. Trump’s company had engaged in possible fraud, investigators needed to question Mr. Trump in order to determine who was responsible for “the numerous misstatements and omissions made by him or on his behalf” — and whether they were intentional.

A case could be hard to prove. Property valuations are often subjective, and Mr. Trump’s lawyers are likely to note that his lenders and insurers — sophisticated financial institutions that turned a profit off their relationship with the Trumps — did not rely on the company’s estimates.

Ms. James has been investigating Mr. Trump’s business practices since March 2019. In previous filings, she described some of the properties she was scrutinizing and said that her investigators were looking into whether Mr. Trump had inflated values in order to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits.


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