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New York attorney general outlines Trump financial fraud

Sharpening her demand to subpoena members of the former first family, the New York attorney general points to evidence that the Trump Organization used "fraudulent or misleading asset valuations" to reap millions in improper benefits.

ALBANY (CN) — New York Attorney General Letitia James has asked a state judge to force the deposition of former President Donald Trump and two of his children, Ivanka and Don Jr., detailing the mounting evidence from her probe into the family’s business dealings.

“For more than two years, the Trump Organization has used delay tactics and litigation in an attempt to thwart a legitimate investigation into its financial dealings,” James said in a late Tuesday statement, posted online at about 11 p.m. “The Trumps must comply with our lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony because no one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them.”

James paired the 115-page petition to compel the Trumps’ sworn testimony with a more concise memorandum where she says the ongoing Trump family probe now includes “evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.”

“Virtually all of the benefits from the misleading valuations accrued to Donald J. Trump,” the memo states. “As a result, the testimony and materials sought bear a reasonable relation to the matters under investigation.”

According to the filing, the probe has found evidence of manipulative bookkeeping at over half a dozen of Trump's properties, including Seven Springs, Trump Tower Triplex, Trump International Golf Club Scotland, The Trump Brand, Trump National Golf Club Westchester, Trump Park Avenue and 40 Wall Street.

State authorities haven’t yet decided whether to bring a lawsuit in connection with the allegations, James explained, adding that investigators nevertheless need to question Trump and his two eldest children as part of the probe.

The Trump Organization called the civil investigation “baseless” and politically motivated in a statement Wednesday morning. In a bid to block the investigation into his business dealings, the former president sued James last month in the Northern District of New York, claiming violations of the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments, as well abuse of process.

James’ office disclosed the investigation’s subpoena requests earlier this month in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Responding to the latest filings, Trump's attorney Alina Habba wrote on Wednesday: “True to form, Letitia has resorted to mischaracterizing the contents of a routine motion response as a ‘smoking gun.’ This is merely the latest in a long line of unfounded attacks against my client and an obvious attempt to distract the public from her own inappropriate conduct.”

“Leticia [sic], you are not above the law,” wrote Habba, spelling the attorney general’s first name incorrectly while repurposing the mantra that James has repeatedly invoked during her investigation into Trump’s business dealings.

A parallel investigation conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office resulted in criminal charges last July against the Trump organization and its former finance chief, Allen Weisselberg.

The attorney general’s filing last night references Weisselberg’s testimony, noting the former Trump CFO described it as “certainly possible” that Trump discussed valuations with him, and that it was “certainly possible” had Tump reviewed statements of financial condition for a particular year before it was finalized.

When questioned about whether Trump and he approved those finance documents before their issuance, Weisselberg repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege, the filing states.

This story is developing...

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