Trump’s lawyers in the complaint attacked the investigation as an attempt to undermine him politically and charged James with violating the former president’s constitutional rights.
“The investigations commenced by James are in no way connected to legitimate law enforcement goals, but rather, are merely a thinly-veiled effort to publicly malign Trump and his associates,” the complaint reads. “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.”
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York asks a judge to put a complete halt to James’ investigation into Trump’s business practices.
The lawsuit was first reported by The New York Times.
The move comes two years into James’s investigation into whether Trump’s business has illegally inflated its assets to attract investors and lenders and win tax breaks. The probe is being conducted parallel with a criminal investigation being carried out by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr. (D).
James on Monday said the lawsuit was an attempt to impede her efforts to investigate Trump’s company.
“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,” the attorney general said in a statement.
“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.”
Earlier this month, James announced she would end her campaign for the New York governor’s seat, opting instead to seek re-election as attorney general.
The lawsuit on Monday recited her history of criticizing the former president and promising to investigate him from the campaign trail. Trump’s lawyers argued that her “political animus” towards him is evidence that the attorney general’s investigation is unconstitutional.
“Defendant’s actions, including but not limited to her abuse of criminal and civil process, the commencement of arbitrary fishing expeditions, and collective misconduct in targeting Plaintiffs in bad faith and solely for political purposes, deprived Plaintiffs of due process of law and impermissibly infringed upon their constitutional rights,” the lawsuit reads.
James has deposed the former president’s son Eric Trump as part of the investigation into the Trump Organization’s valuations of its own properties.
Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that the attorney general was preparing to subpoena Donald Trump for sworn testimony in the investigation.
James’s office can bring a civil case against Trump and his company if it finds evidence of wrongdoing but cannot file criminal charges.
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Vance’s office has been collaborating with the attorney general in its criminal probe. Earlier this year, it charged the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer with 15 felony counts over an alleged tax evasion scheme.
The criminal investigation is ongoing and Vance reportedly issued new subpoenas last month as he prepares to leave office and turn the probe over to his successor, Alvin Bragg, a former New York deputy attorney general and federal prosecutor who will take over the district attorney’s office in January.