New York state Attorney General Letitia James (D) is now “actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity,” according to a new statement from her office. Previously, James and her team had been examining the Trump Organization as part of a civil investigation, but now, criminal charges could be (eventually) on the way. The office of Manhattan-area District Attorney Cy Vance had already been conducting a criminal investigation of the Trump company, and apparently, James’s team is now working with Vance.
A statement from James’s office that emerged this week reads as follows:
‘We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA.’
NEW: NY AG’s office tells CNN — “We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA.”
— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) May 19, 2021
What’s likely at issue here is potential fraud at the Trump Organization, which is suspected of possibly fraudulently adjusting the valuations of its assets in order to obtain financial benefits like favorable loan terms and tax breaks. Vance and James’s teams have already been examining this issue in various capacities. Vance will soon be out of office because he’s announced that he’s not running for re-election as district attorney, but — on the subject of potential criminal charges — James taking on a criminal investigation-oriented role could help keep the probe on its current track. Putting someone who will seemingly be in power for longer in charge of parts of the investigation could help shield it from sudden derailings.
Trump, unsurprisingly, has alleged that the investigative efforts targeting him in New York are part of some kind of witch hunt, but evidence is evidence, no matter the intensity of any complaints from the former president. Not too long ago, Vance’s team successfully obtained years of Trump’s tax returns to use as part of their own criminal investigation. It’s not immediately clear what level of evidence-sharing might be in place between Vance and James now that their teams are cooperating, but nonetheless, the overall criminal investigation is serious.