New York state Attorney General Letitia James asked this week for court action to prevent Donald Trump from taking potentially evasive actions around a sweeping civil lawsuit James filed accusing the former president of a years-long pattern of financial misconduct.
The lawsuit hinges on allegedly vastly deceptive financial statements covering dozens of assets at the Trump Organization. Now, it’s come out that Trump formed a new company in Delaware in the days before James filed her lawsuit, in which she is seeking a variety of harsh civil penalties, including the return of a quarter of a billion dollars the top law enforcement official says the company acquired in connection to false statements about values of its assets. It was already clear before James actually filed the lawsuit that she would potentially be launching such a move. Reporting emerged before the case that she rejected a settlement offer from Trump’s corner — suggesting the new company was formed with an ambition of moving assets away from New York and James’s scrutiny.
The Trump team is insisting the creation of the new company, which Trump’s seeking to get recognized in New York under the name the Trump Organization II, isn’t designed to evade potential consequences from the James case. Still, it remains potentially suspicion-warranting for prosecutors that the filings seeking New York recognition of the new Trump business entity were even made the same day James filed her lawsuit. James proactively wants court restrictions on Trump moving his assets without court approval, the immediate selection of an independent monitor for involvement in the Trump Organization’s finances, and requirements for additional disclosures about underlying methodologies accompanying future company financial statements.
“Since we filed our lawsuit, Donald Trump and the Trump Organization have continued to engage in fraudulent business practices,” James said Thursday. “Today, we are acting to immediately stop this ongoing fraud. Trump doesn’t get to play by different rules. We’re asking a court to: – Prevent the Trump Organization from moving assets to evade liability. – Appoint an independent monitor to oversee any new financial disclosures made to banks and insurers to ensure they are not fraudulent. We will not allow Donald Trump and the Trump Organization to continue this fraud or evade accountability. No one is above the law.” Other punishments James is seeking, should she prevail in her civil case, include bans on Trump and his three adult children named in the case running any New York businesses. She is pursuing a trial date of late next year.
James has previously spoken about potential impacts on everyday Americans from Trump perpetrating what she says is financial misconduct and deceptively obtaining loan money. “When the well-connected and powerful break the law to get more money than they are entitled to, it reduces resources available to working people, small businesses, and taxpayers,” she said. James also indicated she would be providing information from what she gathered to the Justice Department. Trump’s side is trying to move the case from before New York Judge Arthur Engoron, who has previously ruled against Trump, including holding him in contempt for insufficiently complying with demands in James’s original investigation and fining the former president $110,000.