Former President Donald Trump has filed suit against New York State Attorney General Letitia James in his latest desperate attempt to disrupt the civil investigation into his business practices.
“Since taking office, she has tirelessly bombarded him, his family, and his business, Trump Organization LLC, with unwarranted subpoenas in a bitter crusade to ‘take on’ the President,” the lawsuit reads.
In it, Trump lashes out at James for attempting to hold him to account for any alleged wrongdoing.
“Her mission is guided solely by political animus and a desire to harass, intimidate, and retaliate against a private citizen who she views as a political opponent,” it states.
However, as a “private citizen,” Trump has also invoked executive privilege in trying to prevent congressional investigators from obtaining White House records related to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, and from interviewing former aides under oath about the extent of Trump’s involvement in the failed insurrection.
Trump has repeatedly attacked James during her investigation into potential fraud inside the Trump Organization. Most recently, Trump accused James of “prosecutorial misconduct” following reports that she was seeking a deposition from Trump himself at the start of 2022.
James’ civil investigation got underway in March 2019, and has focused on whether Trump defrauded lenders by inflating the value of his assets.
In the Monday filing, Trump dismisses completely the notion that he may have done anything wrong. James, the lawsuit insists, is simply carrying out a “witch hunt,” a common Trump refrain he began repeating while under investigation for allegedly colluding with Russia to swing the 2016 election that put him in the White House.
“It is clear that Defendant lacked any basis to investigate Trump, but she did so anyway, and in doing so, she abandoned all pretenses of acting with impartiality and in accordance with prosecutorial standards,” the suit contends.
Trump’s penchant for spending hours in front of the television also makes a cameo in the lawsuit, citing an appearance James made on The View this month.
“When asked what led to her decision to exit the race, Defendant explained that she has ‘unfinished businesses,’ [sic] among them being her ‘investigations into the Trump Organization and into certain individuals,’” it says. “Joy Behar, a fanatical Trump critic, then quipped ‘You believe in loyalty, I believe in putting Trump in jail.’ Behar’s comment was met by Defendant’s exuberant laughter.”
Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba said in a Monday statement: “Letitia James targets President Trump with a callous disregard for the ethical and moral obligations she swore to abide by when she became attorney general.”
Habba added: “She has short-changed the state by commencing this partisan investigation and has forever tarnished the sanctity of her office… By filing this lawsuit, we intend to not only hold her accountable for her blatant constitutional violations, but to stop her bitter crusade to punish her political opponent in its tracks.”
Trump’s lawsuit also takes aim at his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who provided testimony before a congressional panel that James “relied upon… as grounds for initiating the investigation” of Trump and his businesses.
“Defendant is well-aware that, based on his prior history, Cohen is an unreliable source whose sworn testimony lacks any semblance of credibility,” the filing states.
In a statement provided to The Daily Beast, James fired back, “The Trump Organization has continually sought to delay our investigation into its business dealings and now Donald Trump and his namesake company have filed a lawsuit as an attempted collateral attack on that investigation. To be clear, neither Mr. Trump nor the Trump Organization get to dictate if and where they will answer for their actions. Our investigation will continue undeterred because no one is above the law, not even someone with the name Trump.”
Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington on Monday morning tweeted a statement from Trump, who is banned from the social platform, in which Trump derided James’ now-discontinued gubernatorial campaign, calling it a “complete failure.” The ex-president further claimed, spuriously, that New York “is dying before our very eyes” because “Democrat prosecutors” are “focused on… how we can get and punish Donald Trump, who many would say has done, over the years, a spectacular job for New York!”
Separately, The Guardian reported Monday that Trump has become “increasingly agitated” following a series of court defeats in his bid to keep sensitive Jan. 6 documents out of the hands of congressional investigators. The report states that Trump has been heard swearing at his TV while watching news coverage of the Capitol attack investigation.
As of April 2020, Trump—who was still in office at the time—had filed at least 3,500 lawsuits to date, according to former federal prosecutor James D. Zirin.
“Trump saw litigation as being only about winning,” Zirin wrote in his book, Plaintiff in Chief. “He sued at the drop of a hat. He sued for sport; he sued to achieve control; and he sued to make a point. He sued as a means of destroying or silencing those who crossed him. He became a plaintiff in chief.”
It all adds up to a “chronic scorn for the law,” according to the journal of the American Bar Association.
“All this aberrant behavior would be problematic in a businessman,” Zirin wrote. “But the implications of such conduct in a man who is the president of the United States are nothing less than terrifying.”
Still, Trump’s latest court salvo attempts to portray James as having taken a page out of the legal playbook from which he has operated for decades:
“Defendant weaponized the legal process against Plaintiffs in a perverted manner for the purpose of obtaining inappropriate collateral objectives outside the legitimate ends of the process.”