Letitia James Pledges Justice For Trump Crimes

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New York state Attorney General Letitia James (D) remains undeterred in her investigation of the Trump Organization for apparently fraudulent business practices. That investigation is civil in nature, so it’s set to lead to a lawsuit rather than criminal charges in the event of conclusive findings of misconduct, and that hypothetical lawsuit could seemingly lead to presumably substantial financial penalties for the Trump company if James successfully proves her claims. Recently, New York Judge Arthur Engoron found Trump in contempt of court and imposed $10,000 daily fines set to remain in place as long as his non-compliance with subpoenas from James continues. Trump appealed the ruling, but James responded to that appeal with a pledge to continue following the facts, saying:

‘The judge’s order was clear: Donald J. Trump is in contempt of court and must pay $10,000 a day until he complies with our subpoenas. We’ve seen this playbook before, and it has never stopped our investigation of Mr. Trump and his organization. This time is no different.’

The practices under investigation by James include apparent deceptive adjustments to valuations of the Trump company’s assets. Those adjustments would’ve been set to provide unearned and potentially substantial financial benefits to the Trump Organization from potential lenders and tax authorities; for lenders, higher valuations would have made the company seem better off than it actually was, while lower valuations were set to help lessen the company’s tax bills. Artificially high valuations for conservation easements at Trump-owned properties in New York and California also provided Trump’s company with apparently unearned tax benefits. As for the subpoenas driving the contempt finding, James’s team is apparently pursuing mobile devices belonging to Trump and a variety of specific file storage locations associated with the Trump Organization. Trump’s side claimed he didn’t have the materials James is after, but legally sufficient documentation of the search for items that investigators are seeking apparently wasn’t provided.

Among other examples of the issues that have been under investigation is Trump’s valuation of his Jupiter, Florida golf course at $46 million after purchasing the property for just $5 million. James’s side indicated during a recent court proceeding dealing with these matters that their investigation is close to its conclusion. A so-called tolling agreement between authorities and the Trump Organization that paused the clocks on statutes of limitations for relevant criminal acts will soon expire, and Kevin Wallace, who’s a senior enforcement counsel on James’s team, also remarked: “Given the upcoming end of the tolling agreement we will likely need to bring some kind of enforcement action in the near future to preserve our rights.” That prospective enforcement action would presumably be a lawsuit singling out the Trump company for having engaged in deception when preparing valuations of its assets, although Wallace said that James’s team would be meeting with Trump company attorneys before filing. Predictably, Trump has lashed out — recently, he publicly characterized James as “racist,” which is weird.