Trump’s lawsuit against Letitia James dismissed

In the latest legal blow to Donald J. Trump, a federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by the former president seeking to stop the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into his business practices.

The ruling, in federal court in Albany, was Trump’s second defeat related to the investigation in two days. On Thursday, an appeals court ordered Trump and two of his children to sit for questioning under oath from the office of state Attorney General Letitia James.

Together, the rulings clear the way for Ms. James to complete her investigation in the coming weeks or months. While Ms. James, a Democrat seeking re-election, does not have the authority to bring criminal charges against Mr. Trump or her family’s real estate business, she can file a lawsuit if she concludes they committed fraud. .

Last month, one of his attorneys indicated a lawsuit could soon be filed and said the office was preparing an “enforcement action” in the near future.

It’s unclear whether Trump plans to appeal any of the rulings. His attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“The courts have made it clear that Donald J. Trump’s baseless legal challenges cannot stop our legal investigation into his financial dealings and those of the Trump Organization,” Ms. James said in a statement. “No one in this country gets to choose how the law applies to them, and Donald Trump is no exception. As we have said all along, we will continue this investigation without flinching.”

Trump’s attorneys filed the federal lawsuit in December, arguing that James’s public criticism of Trump and subpoenas he had issued to him and his company violated several of his constitutional rights, including free speech and due process. .

In Friday’s ruling, Brenda K. Sannes, the federal judge, rejected Trump’s claim that the James investigation was politically motivated and that she had violated his rights.

Trump’s lawsuit cited a litany of public statements by James criticizing Trump, including a 2017 tweet declaring that she was “leading the resistance against Donald Trump in New York.”

While Ms. James’s public statements could reflect political or personal animosity toward Mr. Trump, the judge said, her comments were not enough to prove that the attorney general had infringed on Mr. Trump’s rights.

Judge Sannes also found “no evidence that the summons enforcement procedure was conducted in such a way as to constitute harassment.”

Trump has denied wrongdoing and has criticized James, calling his investigation “a witch hunt.”

His research focuses on his annual financial statements, which contain estimated values ​​for his golf courses, hotels, and other properties. Ms. James is examining whether Mr. Trump and his company falsely and fraudulently inflated those values ​​to obtain loans and other financial benefits.

In a court filing this year, Ms James revealed that Trump’s accounting firm had severed ties with him and essentially retracted nearly a decade of financial statements.

He also argued, in a separate filing, that the Trump Organization had engaged in “fraudulent or deceptive” practices. But his attorneys said they needed to gather additional records and testimony, particularly from Trump, before they could decide whether to sue.

Last month, a state judge in Manhattan, Arthur F. Engoron, held Trump in contempt of court for failing to fully comply with Ms. James’ subpoena to search for her personal records. (The judge recently issued the contempt order, after Trump paid a $110,000 fine and submitted additional documents.)

Judge Engoron also ordered that Mr. Trump, as well as two of his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, be interviewed under oath by Ms. James’s office. In its ruling Thursday, a New York state appeals court upheld that order.

As Ms. James steps up her civil investigation, Mr. Trump is also facing a criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office into some of the same business practices Ms. James is reviewing.

But while the criminal investigation continues, prosecutors stopped presenting evidence on Trump to a grand jury earlier this year.

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