Update: Letitia James announced on Thursday that she would be suspending her campaign for governor, deciding instead to continue working as Attorney General. "I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney genera," she said. "There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job."
New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose investigations successfully brought down former Governor Andrew Cuomo, has turned her attention to former President Donald Trump. James has issued a subpoena to compel Trump to testify in a fraud investigation.
Trump has been under investigation by the attorney general's office since March 2019, with the AG digging into Trump's real estate holdings and practices. The Trump Organization has said that this investigation is politically motivated.
James is currently running for governor of New York, against Kathy Hochul, who ascended from her post as Lieutenant Governor after Cuomo resigned in August.
"This is another political witch-hunt," the Trump Organization said. "The only focus of the New York AG is to investigate Trump, all for her own political ambitions ... This political prosecution is illegal, unethical and is a travesty to our great state and legal system."
James seeks to question Trump in a "civil fraud investigation," according to The New York Times. There is also a criminal investigation into Trump currently pending.
James has asked Trump to testify on Jan. 7 in New York, and according to the Washington Post, she is looking into whether or not "widespread fraud" "permeated the Trump Organization."
Because there are currently two actions against Trump, one civil and one criminal, both stemming from his real estate ventures, Trump could refuse to be deposed by James, in that it could be used in the criminal trial against him, brought by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Times reports.
Refusing to be deposed would be the invocation of Trump's 5th amendment rights as the information gathered in the civil suit could be used in the criminal case.
Both Vance and James are interested to know if Trump or his businesses "engaged in a pattern of criminal fraud by intentionally submitting false property values to potential lenders."
Trump has not personally been accused of wrongdoing, though his companies are under scrutiny for allegedly valuing properties differently depending on whether those values were being reported to tax officials for the purpose of assessment or to lenders for the purposes of securing funds.
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