New York Attorney General Letitia James put the world on notice Tuesday night that she would have a major announcement to share. And today she delivered, announcing a host of civil fraud charges against the Trump family organization.
“Ms. James concluded that Mr. Trump and his family business violated several state criminal laws and “plausibly” broke federal laws as well. Her office, which in this case lacks the authority to file criminal charges, referred the findings to federal prosecutors in Manhattan; it was not immediately clear whether the U.S. attorney would investigate.”
Fundamentally, James is alleging in a lawsuit that Trump and his businesses routinely overstated the value of their assets on official forms — sometimes by hundreds of millions of dollars — to obtain loans they otherwise were unlikely to receive.
The lawsuit was filed against Trump, his three eldest children and the Trump Organization, among others. Alina Habba, a lawyer representing Trump in this case, said the lawsuit “is neither focused on the facts nor the law — rather, it is solely focused on advancing the attorney general’s political agenda.”
James has been building her case for two years — and jockeying with Trump’s attorneys all the while. Trump, as you may remember, invoked the Fifth Amendment nearly 500 times during a deposition led by James’ office. Reports that she declined a settlement agreement with Trump’s lawyers last week were the latest sign that she was preparing to act.
And to be clear, this is just one of many civil cases involving Trump, who has denied all wrongdoing. Let’s refresh your memory on a few of those:
- Trump faces several civil lawsuits stemming from the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol and his efforts to stay in office past his term. Those include multiple suits filed by officers with the United States Capitol Police and Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department who were beaten by the mob at the Capitol. Trump is also being sued by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., who accuses the former president of civil rights violations related to Jan. 6. A separate yet similar lawsuit filed by other members of Congress is making its way through the courts as well.
- E. Jean Carroll, a writer who alleges Trump raped her in a department store in the 1990s, has a pending defamation suit against Trump. The suit stems from Trump calling Carroll a “liar” and denying he raped her. “She’s not my type,” Trump said. Carroll’s lawyer recently said she plans to use a recently enacted New York law protecting sexual abuse survivors to also pursue a civil case against Trump.
- Trump’s niece Mary Trump has also sued, alleging that her uncle and his siblings defrauded her out of millions of dollars she says she was due as part of her family inheritance.
- A group of people who protested outside Trump Tower over Trump’s derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants in 2015 is suing him over allegations that his security team assaulted them. Trump’s claim of innocence has been contradicted by sworn testimony from his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen.
- Four anonymous individuals are suing Trump and three of his children — Eric, Donald Jr. and Ivanka — over claims they scammed people into investing in fruitless business ventures.
Wednesday’s announcement from New York’s attorney general just adds to the deluge of civil cases Trump faces, each of which — on their own — could exact a heavy cost on him or his family.