Explained: Why Donald Trump is blocking another probe into his businesses

Former US President Donald Trump Monday filed what is being called a ‘frivolous’ lawsuit against New York’s attorney general Letitia James to prevent her from conducting her civil investigation into his business practices.

Trump’s lawsuit, which was filed by his lawyer Alina Habba (In September Habba filed a $100 million lawsuit against The New York Times, three of its reporters and Mary Trump on his behalf) states that James, “…has flagrantly abused her investigatory powers to target her political adversaries and advance her career. Her relentless attacks on Donald J. Trump serve as a prime example.”

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“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 lawsuit states.

In a statement, James said, “The Trump Organization has continually sought to delay our investigation into its business dealings, and this lawsuit is yet another attack. Mr. Trump doesn’t get to dictate this investigation. We will continue undeterred because no one is above the law.”

Apart from James’ civil investigation, a criminal investigation is being run into Trump and his family business by Manhattan’s district attorney in which her office is also participating.

One of James’ demands is that Trump testify under oath on January 7.

Why has James opened an investigation against Trump?

James opened an investigation into Trump and the Trump Organisation in 2019, after Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cogen testified before Congress that Trump’s annual financial statements inflated the values of Trump’s assets to obtain favourable terms for loans and insurance coverage.

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At the same time, Cohen said the financial statements deflated the value of some other assets to reduce real estate taxes.

When The New York Times obtained Trump’s tax information in 2020, it revealed that he paid as little as $750 a year as federal income tax in the first two years of his presidency (2016 and 2017), which is just over Rs 50,000 a year. It has also revealed that he managed to evade paying any income tax in 10 of the previous 15 years.

James also filed a motion to compel the Trump Organization to provide the Office of the Attorney General with documents and testimony from multiple witnesses regarding several, specific Trump Organization properties and transactions in August 2020.

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