Former President Donald Trump sued New York Attorney General Letitia James Monday, seeking to halt her office’s long-running investigation into his company.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Trump and his eponymous company, claims the attorney general’s two-year-long financial fraud probe is politically motivated and in violation of Trump’s rights. James’ office isas soon as next month.
Trump called the investigation “unconstitutional” in a phone call with CBS News Monday.
“We are such an aggrieved and innocent party. It is a disgrace,” Trump said.
He compared James’ probe to investigations he faced while president.
“This is like Russia, Russia, Russia, which turned out to be a hoax,” Trump said.
The lawsuit claims James’ office “has tirelessly bombarded (Mr. Trump), his family and his business, Trump Organization LLC, with unwarranted subpoenas in a bitter crusade to ‘take on’ the President.”
It cites media appearances as recent as a December 15 episode of “The View,” in which James said the Trump investigation was among the “unfinished business” that on December 9 led her to end a nascent gubernatorial campaign.
Alina Habba, the attorney who represents Trump in the suit, said in a phone call with CBS News that she believes they have a strong case against James. She called James’ investigation “an embarrassment” and said Trump and his company have already turned over 8 million pages of documents to investigators.
Ronald Fischetti, an attorney who represents Trump in other matters, said Trump’s team believes it has no other choice.
“This is a stretch. I know that. In 50 years, I’ve been doing this a long time, we’ve never brought an action that I’ve been at least peripherally involved in like this against a prosecutor,” Fischetti said. “She considers it her job to indict him. This is personal.”
Fischetti later clarified that he believed it’s “a stretch” for the New York Attorney General to be involved in both the civil and criminal investigations into Trump.
James accused Trump and his company of seeking “to delay our investigation into its business dealings” in a statement Monday.
“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,” James said.
The investigation is civil in nature, but personnel from James’ office are also involved in a criminal inquiry of Trump and his company being run by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. The company and its CFO, Allen Weisselberg, have been charged in connection with that investigation. Trump has not.
The two investigations, which both look at Trump’s finances and valuations he and his company have assigned to various properties over the years, have long overlapped. And personnel from James’ office were assigned earlier this year to aid the Manhattan district attorney’s probe.
The ongoing Manhattan investigation can still lead to charges against Trump or more of his employees. James’ investigation can result in a lawsuit seeking civil damages from Trump or the company, but cannot result in criminal charges.
Fischetti said that’s one reason Trump’s attorneys are resisting efforts by James’ office to have him sit for a deposition in January.
“She’s put her own people, at least four of them, in the district attorney’s office. And they are talking at the grand jury. They went into the grand jury when witnesses were being briefed,” Fischetti said. “They are still asking for a civil deposition so she can take the answers that she gets and give them to the Manhattan district attorney.”