The New York Attorney General’s office will be joining the Manhattan District Attorney’s years-long criminal investigation of the Trump Organization.
A spokesperson for Attorney General Letitia James told CNN on Thursday, “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 DA. We have no additional comment.”
James’ office had been looking into whether the former president’s company had inflated the value of their various properties in order to obtain loans and other tax benefits. The Trump Organization previously called the civil inquiry is politically motivated, as James is a Democrat.
One of the properties in the crosshairs is a 213-acre property in Westchester County, Seven Springs, that is also part of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s probe.The Supreme Court in February denied Donald Trump’s attempt to block Vance’s office from obtaining eight years of personal and business tax returns, and the Manhattan DA received years of the financial records the next month.
The NY Times reports, “It is unclear what role Ms. James’s office will play in that aspect of the investigation. In the collaboration, two assistant attorneys general from Ms. James’s office are joining the district attorney’s team, people with knowledge of the matter said.” The Trump Organization declined to comment, according to CNN and NY Times.
In addition to looking at whether the Trump Organization overvalued properties, the Manhattan DA’s office has been focused on the alleged hush-money payments to multiple women Trump had relationships with, as his former attorney Michael Cohen said he paid the women off and was reimbursed (and Cohen produced receipts). Those payments have been variously characterized as reimbursements by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and as a legal retainer by Trump himself.
“[I]f Trump or anyone in his company misrepresented the illicit payoffs as legal expenses, they may have violated New York laws prohibiting the falsification of business records. Such crimes are usually misdemeanors, but they can become felonies if they were committed as part of other offenses, such as tax fraud or insurance fraud,” according to the New Yorker.
Cohen, who has been cooperating with the Manhattan DA’s office, tweeted about the AG’s news:
Prosecutors from Vance’s team, which includes a former federal prosecutor who also spent two decades defending white-collar clients, have been reportedly presenting evidence before a grand jury.
CNN is also reporting that Trump will be spending the rest of the spring, summer, and some of the early fall in New Jersey, at his golf club in Bedminster.