Evidence Could Support Action Against Trump

NEW YORK (AP) — As a federal judge weighs Donald Trump’s lawsuit seeking to halt a civil investigation into his business practices, a lawyer for the New York attorney general’s office said Friday that evidence found throughout the three-year investigation could support legal action against Donald Trump. the former president, his company, or both.

The attorney, Andrew Amer, told a hearing in Trump’s lawsuit against Attorney General Letitia James that “a substantial amount of evidence has clearly accumulated that could support the filing of an execution proceeding,” although a final determination on the Filing of such an action has not been made.

Amer, a special trial attorney in James’ office, said the office is “near the end” of the civil investigation, which James said uncovered evidence that Trump’s company misrepresented the value of assets such as skyscrapers and golf courses in financial statements for more than one year. decade.

James could decide to sue and seek financial sanctions against Trump or his company, or even a ban on them from engaging in certain types of business, as happened in January when a judge barred former pharmaceutical company CEO Martin Shkreli from court. pharmaceutical industry. for life.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has said a parallel criminal investigation into Trump is continuing, though the deadline for a grand jury to hear evidence on that matter expired last month.

Mark Pomerantz, who was leading the criminal investigation, said in a February resignation letter that he believed there was “sufficient evidence to establish Mr. Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” for falsifying financial statements.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing. His attorneys contend that James is using his civil investigation to gain access to information that could later be used against him in the criminal matter.

Trump’s attorney, who is seeking to stop the civil investigation, argued at Friday’s hearing that the James investigation is a politically motivated fishing expedition and that, by attacking him, he is violating Trump’s constitutional right to equal protection before the law.

Trump, a Republican, is seeking an injunction to stop the civil investigation. James, a Democrat, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. US District Judge Brenda Sannes said she would consider both requests and deliver a written decision. She did not give a timetable for a ruling.

Sannes listened to arguments from Amer and Trump attorney Alina Habba for about an hour via video and asked probing questions about recent legal battles over subpoenas for Trump’s testimony and evidence, and the role of the federal courts intervening in a state matter.

Trump sued James in federal court in upstate New York in December after his office issued subpoenas requiring him and his two eldest children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., to answer questions under oath. A state appeals court heard arguments Wednesday as the Trumps seek to reverse a lower court judge’s ruling enforcing subpoenas.

Habba argued at Friday’s hearing that James was investigating Trump to fulfill promises he made during his campaign for attorney general in 2018, using the office to harass him and his company with countless subpoenas and requests for evidence.

“We have produced millions and millions and millions of pages” of evidence, Habba told Sannes. “We continue to receive citations. They keep looking for things. If they don’t find it, they look again.”

Amer responded that the investigation has a strong legal basis, noting that the state judge overseeing legal fights over subpoenas issued by the attorney general’s office has found there is “sufficient basis to continue his investigation.”

James’ office began investigating Trump in 2019 after his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, told Congress that Trump had a history of misrepresenting the value of assets to obtain favorable loan terms and tax benefits. Amer said the investigation, now “almost complete,” has uncovered ample evidence that could support a civil enforcement action.

All of that, Amer said, “really closes the door on any argument” by Trump’s lawyers that the attorney general’s office was acting in bad faith.

Habba also took issue with how the investigation and state court battles over subpoenas for Trump’s business records and testimony have unfolded, telling Sannes: “We’re sitting with our hands tied. We’re just dodging citations right now.”

James’ office and Trump’s lawyers have struck several deals extending the deadline for a possible decision, writing in a court filing that doing so “is in their mutual benefit and interest.” An agreement published in the state court file set a deadline for April 30, but Habba said Trump’s lawyers recently agreed to another extension.

Trump’s appeals could further delay the end of the investigation. The mid-level state appeals court that heard arguments Wednesday in Trump’s testimony fight is not expected to take up his appeal of a recent contempt of court ruling until this fall.

Judge Arthur Engoron agreed Wednesday to lift the contempt ruling and a $10,000-a-day fine for delay in responding to James’ subpoena for documents and other evidence if Trump meets certain conditions by May 20. That includes paying $110,000 in fines accrued so far, and submitting documentation detailing efforts to search for the subpoenaed records and explaining your and his company’s document retention policies.

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Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak

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