N.Y. AG’s Office Opens Criminal Probe of Trump Organization
(Bloomberg) -- New York Attorney General Letitia James said her investigation of the Trump Organization, which had been civil, has morphed into a criminal probe, making her the second state official who might bring criminal charges against the former president.
”We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan D.A. We have no additional comment at this time,” Fabien Levy, a spokesman for James, said in a statement issued late Tuesday.
One focus of James’s investigation had been the appraisal of Seven Springs, a Trump property on 212 acres in Westchester County, outside New York City. James’s investigators have been trying to determine whether Donald Trump’s company gave an accurate valuation for the property when it served as the basis for about $21.1 million in tax deductions for donating a conservation easement for the 2015 tax year.
It’s not clear whether James’s probe is expanding into other tax issues, and her spokesman declined to provide any further information.
‘We Will Overcome’
Trump responded Wednesday by calling it “an investigation that is in desperate search of a crime.” He said James campaigned to become New York’s attorney general with the promise of prosecuting him. “This is what I have been going through for years,” Trump wrote in an emailed statement. “It’s a very sad and dangerous tale for our Country, but it is what it is, and we will overcome together.”
James, a Democrat, has risen to prominence in the past year by tackling high-profile cases, including a lawsuit that seeks to dissolve the National Rifle Association and pursuing major cases against Facebook Inc. and Google. In an interview earlier this year, James said of the Trump probe that her office was “investigating potential civil claims. In the event we uncover any criminal activity, it will change the posture of our case.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who has said he will not run for re-election this year, has also been probing the former president for potential criminal behavior, and won a court fight to get access to his federal tax returns. Vance initially focused on the Trump Organization’s reimbursements of 2016 hush-money payments made by Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, to women claiming to have had affairs with Trump. Since then, his probe has expanded into a broader review of the company’s dealings, including whether the Trump Organization lied to secure credit lines and tax breaks.
In recent months, Vance’s prosecutors have been looking at financial transactions between the Trump Organization and the family of Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, in what appears to be an effort to get Weisselberg to cooperate with their investigation.
Trump himself is under investigation in Georgia, where the Fulton County District Attorney is looking into the former president’s contacts with local officials as part of an effort to change the outcome of the November election.
No charges have been filed against Trump or employees of his company in any of these investigations, and none may ever be filed.
CNN reported the James criminal probe earlier.
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