MANHATTAN (CN) — Accusing the Trump Organization of stonewalling an investigation that remained confidential for months, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued the president’s business, his son Eric Trump and their associates on Monday to force compliance.
“Nothing will stop us from following the facts and the law, wherever they may lead. For months, the Trump Organization has made baseless claims in an effort to shield evidence from a lawful investigation into its financial dealings,” James said in a statement. “They have stalled, withheld documents, and instructed witnesses, including Eric Trump, to refuse to answer questions under oath.”
Revealed on the eve of the Republican National Convention, the attorney general’s monthslong probe has been investigating whether Trump and his business improperly inflated the president’s assets on annual financial statements to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits. She says that Eric Trump refused to show up for a subpoenaed interview on July 22.
“That’s why we’ve filed a motion to compel the Trump Organization to comply with our office’s lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony,” James added. “These questions will be answered, and the truth will be uncovered, because no one is above the law.”
As the attorney general alleges, the Trump Organization’s counsel pulled the plug on Eric Trump’s testimony two days before his scheduled examination.
Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, had agreed to an interview the prior week, and the company complained that the attorney general’s questions “beyond the scope of [its] civil inquiry,” according to the memorandum.
James said she assured the Trump Organization on July 21 that her office “does not currently have an open criminal investigation into these matters,” and had “not coordinated with another criminal law enforcement agency on matters related to this investigation.”
“If at any point we become aware of information that prompts this office to open a criminal investigation or referral, we will advise counsel and proceed accordingly,” she added, asking the attorneys to reschedule Eric Trump’s interview the following week.
But the memo says the Trump Organization would not budge. “We cannot allow the requested interview to go forward … pursuant to those rights afforded to every individual under the Constitution,” it replied six days later.
Larry Rosen, a partner with the law firm LaRocca Hornik Rosen & Greenberg, represents the Trump Organization, Eric Trump and others. He did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
New York’s attorney general has been looking into four Trump properties: Seven Springs Estate, a 212-acre mansion in Westchester; 40 Wall Street, the lower Manhattan building that Trump incorrectly boasted was downtown Manhattan’s largest after the 9/11 attacks felled the World Trade Center; Trump International Hotel; and Tower Chicago and Trump National Golf Club – Los Angeles.
In a 68-page memorandum, James provides an early glimpse of what her investigation found.
“Valuations of Seven Springs were used to claim an apparent $21.1 million tax deduction for donating a conservation easement on the property in tax year 2015, and in submissions to financial institutions as a component of Mr. Trump’s net worth,” the memo states.
Eric Trump, in addition to being the president’s son, serves as the Trump Organization’s executive vice president and Seven Springs LLC’s president.
Earlier this month, James sought to disband the National Rifle Association in a lawsuit that accuses the gun group of fraud, and her office previously shuttered the Trump Foundation, securing a $2 million settlement with the president’s former charity.
Along with the Trump Organization, the proceeding James initiated Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court names as defendants the president’s son Eric Trump, DJT Holdings LLC, DJT Holdings Managing Member LLC, Seven Springs LLC, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, land-use attorney Charles Martabano, and Morgan Lewis partner Sheri Dillon.
Filing her initial petition under seal in Manhattan Supreme Court, James seeks permission to keep nearly 10 filings and exhibits secret as of press time. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Colangelo filed a 48-page affirmation, which is heavily redacted to protect the office’s ongoing investigation.
The document makes repeated reference to financial statements by Trump’s accounting firm Mazars, which has the president’s tax returns and other documents requested by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance for an ongoing criminal probe.