STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Attorney General Letitia James announced a new lawsuit Wednesday against the Trump family and its business organization over years of allegedly fraudulent practices.
James’ suit seeks to remove former President Donald Trump, and his children — Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump — from their roles with the Trump Organization, and prevent them from future corporate leadership roles.
Trump allegedly inflated his net worth by billions of dollars while manipulating asset values to dodge taxes or secure better loan terms depending on which would provide the greatest financial benefit, James said during a press conference in Manhattan.
“All told, we uncovered more than 200 examples of false or misleading asset valuations,” she said. “The pattern of fraud and deception that was used by Mr. Trump and the Trump organization for their own financial benefit is astounding.”
In addition to barring Trump and his children from serving in a corporate leadership role, James’ suit wants to prevent the former president and his organization from buying commercial real estate or receiving loans for 5 years, and seeking $250 million in damages.
Some alleged actions include Trump lying about the amount of cash he had on hand, using different methodologies to value some of his properties, and including allegedly fraudulent premiums when calculating the value of properties.
James pointed specifically to Trump’s Trump Tower triplex apartment on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue at which he valued at $327 million in 2015 and 2016 despite an apartment never selling near that amount in New York City.
To achieve the overvaluation, James said Trump misrepresented the apartment’s size, nearly tripling its floor area.
Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, told investigators during sworn testimony that the false square footage amounted to an over valuation of “give or take $200 million,” James said.
“Tripling the size of the apartment’s size for the purposes of the valuation was intentional and deliberate fraud, not an honest mistake,” James said. “Misrepresenting the size of the apartment was only one of the many ways that Mr. Trump mis-valued his assets.”
The attorney general’s lawsuit amounts to a civil action, but James said that her office’s 3-year investigation also found evidence of criminal action, which have been recommended to the relevant authorities.
In response to the announcement, New York Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy described James’ civil suit as “one of the most brazen political publicity stunts I have seen during my lifetime” given its proximity to the November elections.
“Recent polling confirms that voters are leaving her and her fellow Democrats in droves, and as we have consistently seen from New York Democrats, they have no problem breaking laws or trampling our constitution to try and hold onto power,” Langworthy said. “This lawsuit isn’t worth the paper it’s written on and voters of all stripes should be deeply disturbed by this reckless abuse of power that is being wielded purely for political gain.”
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