New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and his company, along with three of his adult children and others, alleging business fraud involving some of their most prized assets, including properties in Manhattan, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
"We are filing a lawsuit against Donald Trump for violating the law as part of his efforts to generate profits for himself, his family, and his company," James said at a press conference on Wednesday announcing the lawsuit.
James’ lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, is the culmination of the Democrat’s three-year civil investigation of Trump and the Trump Organization. Trump’s three eldest children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump, were also named as defendants, along with two longtime company executives, Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney.
James said Trump “falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars.”
“This investigation revealed that Donald Trump engaged in years of illegal conduct to inflate his net worth, to deceive banks and the people of the great state of New York,” James said at the news conference. “Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It’s the art of the steal.”
The lawsuit seeks $250 million in penalties and for Trump and his children to be barred from conducting business in the state for five years. The attorney general also said that she will make criminal referrals to the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants "engaged in numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation in the preparation of Mr. Trump’s annual statements of financial condition ... covering at least the years 2011 through 2021."
“These acts of fraud and misrepresentation grossly inflated Mr. Trump’s personal net worth as reported in the Statements by billions of dollars and conveyed false and misleading impressions to financial counterparties about how the Statements were prepared,” the lawsuit reads. “Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization used these false and misleading Statements repeatedly and persistently to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company, to satisfy continuing loan covenants, and to induce insurers to provide insurance coverage for higher limits and at lower premiums.”
"The complaint demonstrates that Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us," James said.
James is seeking to remove the Trumps from businesses engaged in the alleged fraud and wants an independent monitor appointed for no less than five years to oversee the Trump Organization’s compliance, financial reporting, valuations and disclosures to lenders, insurers and tax authorities.
She is seeking to replace the current trustees of Trump’s revocable trust, which controls his business interests, with independent trustee, to bar Trump and the Trump Organization from entering into commercial real estate acquisitions for five years, from obtaining loans from banks in New York for five years and permanently bar Trump and his three eldest children from serving as an officer or director in any New York corporation or similar business entity registered and/or licensed in New York State.
She also seeks to permanently bar Weisselberg and McConney from serving in the financial control function of any New York corporation or similar business entity registered and/or licensed in New York State.
James said her investigation uncovered potential criminal violations, including falsifying business records, issuing false financial statements, insurance fraud, conspiracy and bank fraud.
When asked if she would be willing to settle the case with Trump, James said that she "will not negotiate in public," but signaled openness to doing so potentially.
In a statement posted to his Truth Social platform, Trump called the lawsuit "another Witch Hunt by a racist Attorney General, Letitia James."
"I never thought this case would be brought - until I saw her really bad poll numbers," Trump continued. "She is a fraud who campaigned on a 'get Trump' platform, despite the fact that the city is one of the crime and murder disasters of the world under her watch!"
Trump has previously railed against James' investigation, alleging political bias from the Democratic attorney general and calling the probe a "witch hunt." At a scheduled deposition in the probe in August, Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, later announcing that he "declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution."
“Today’s filing is neither focused on the facts nor the law — rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda," said Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump. "It is abundantly clear that the Attorney General’s Office has exceeded its statutory authority by prying into transactions where absolutely no wrongdoing has taken place."
"We are confident that our judicial system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the Attorney General’s meritless claims," Habba added.