Trump sues New York attorney general to stop probe into business practices

Trump argues in federal suit that Letitia James' long-running probe infected by "political animus."

Updated: December 20, 2021 - 12:25pm

Former President Donald Trump on Monday sued New York Attorney General Letitia James, alleging her long-running investigation into his business practices was conducted with "political animus" and should be stopped.

The lawsuit filed by Trump and his family real estate business in federal court argues that James' inquiry has violated the former president's constitutional rights. James has been probing Trump's business practices for more than two years.

"Her mission is guided solely by political animus and a desire to harass, intimidate, and retaliate against a private citizen who she views as a political opponent," the lawsuit alleged.

James has been conducting a civil probe of the Trump Organization, centered on the company's alleged misstatements of the value of real estate assets in order to obtain better loan and insurance rates, while simultaneously lowering company tax commitments.

Several days ago, James indicated that she would attempt to question Trump under oath early in the new year. Trump's attorneys are expected to request that a judge dismiss James' subpoena in the coming days. 

"Letitia James targets President Trump with a callous disregard for the ethical and moral obligations she swore to abide by when she became Attorney General," said Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, in a written statement obtained by CNBC. 

"By filing this lawsuit, we intend to not only hold her accountable for her blatant constitutional violations, but to stop her bitter crusade to punish her political opponent in its tracks," the statement continued.

James, in a statement released Monday, said that the Trump Organization has, at every turn, attempted to stall her investigation. "To be clear, 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," she said.

James' investigation is matched by a criminal investigation being run by Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney. Vance's probe focuses on the question of whether Trump defrauded lenders by artificially boosting the value of his assets. 

It is unclear whether Vance, who leaves his office at the close of the year, will hand over his investigation to the next Manhattan DA, Alvin Bragg.