A federal judge on Friday dismissed former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit to block the New York attorney general’s office from continuing its sprawling investigation into his company’s business practices.
Trump had sued Attorney General Letitia James in December, arguing that her years-long civil tax fraud investigation “is guided solely by political animosity and a desire to harass, intimidate and retaliate against a private citizen whom she sees.” as a political opponent.
The filing pointed to numerous derogatory statements James had made about Trump over the years, including calling him an “illegitimate president” and telling NBC News after his 2018 election that he planned to “use every area of the law to investigate the president.” Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well.”
In her 43-page ruling, US District Judge Brenda K. Sannes said that while Trump and company pointed to several comments they argue show James’ “personal animosity toward Mr. Trump and evidence intent to retaliate or stifle the freedom of the plaintiffs”. speech, “did not demonstrate that his effort to enforce citations against the company” was initiated for the purpose of retaliation.”
“The fact that the defendant’s public statements reflect personal and/or political animosity toward the plaintiffs is not, in itself, sufficient,” the judge said, noting that the investigation had a “legitimate fact predicate” on the testimony. Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, before Congress. about Trump’s business practices in February 2019.
Cohen testified that Trump “inflated his total assets when it served his purposes” and “deflated his assets to reduce his property taxes.”
Sannes noted that the state judge presiding over the attorney general’s efforts to get Trump and his company to comply with their subpoenas has already determined that if James had not investigated the Trump Organization after Cohen’s testimony, it would have been “a flagrant breach of the law.” have to”. ”
James called the federal court’s ruling “a great victory.”
“Frivolous lawsuits will not prevent us from completing our legal and legitimate investigation,” he tweeted.
Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, criticized what she called James’s “egregious conduct and harassment investigation.”
“There is no doubt that we will appeal this decision,” Habba said.
The court victory was the third for James in recent weeks. On Thursday, an appeals court ruled that Trump must appear for a deposition in the attorney general’s investigation, and last week, Trump paid James’ office $110,000 after being held in contempt of court for failing to respond to another subpoena. .
The AG’s office has been investigating whether the Trump Organization committed fraud in reporting the value of certain properties to banks and tax authorities, and is considering filing a civil lawsuit against the company. Trump has denied wrongdoing and called the investigation a “witch hunt.”