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Federal judge rejects Trump’s attempt to block New York attorney general’s tax evasion probe

A federal judge on Friday dismissed former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit to block the New York attorney general’s office from continuing its sprawling investigation into his company’s business practices.

Trump had sued Attorney General Letitia James in December, arguing that his years-long civil tax evasion investigation “is driven solely by political animosity and a desire to harass, intimidate and retaliate against a private citizen. whom she considers a political opponent”.

The filing indicated numerous disparaging statements James had made about Trump over the years, including calling him an “illegitimate president” and telling NBC News after his election in 2018 that she planned “to use every areas of law to investigate President Trump and his and his family’s business dealings as well.

In her 43-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Brenda K. Sannes said that while Trump and company pointed to several comments they said show James’ “personal animosity toward Mr. Trump and manifest an intent to retaliate or stifle the freedom of complainants”. speeches,” they failed to show that his efforts to enforce subpoenas against the company “were undertaken for the purpose of retaliation.”

“The fact that the defendant’s public statements reflect personal and/or political animosity toward the plaintiffs is not, in itself, sufficient,” the judge said, noting that the investigation had a “legitimate factual predicate.” in testimony by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen before Congress. on Trump’s business practices in February 2019.

Cohen testified that Trump “inflated his total assets when it served his purposes” and “deflated his assets to reduce his property taxes.”

Sannes noted that the state judge presiding over the attorney general’s effort to get Trump and his company to comply with their subpoenas had already found that if James had not investigated the Trump organization following the testimony from Cohen, it would have been “a flagrant dereliction of duty. ”

James called the federal court’s decision a “huge victory.”

“Frivolous lawsuits will not prevent us from completing our lawful and legitimate investigation,” she tweeted.

Trump lawyer Alina Habba criticized what she called James’ “egregious conduct and harassing investigation”.

“There is no doubt that we will appeal this decision,” Habba said.

The court win was the third for James in recent weeks. An appeals court on Thursday ruled Trump must appear for deposition in the attorney general’s investigation, and last week Trump paid James’ office $110,000 after he was found in contempt of court for failing to respond to another subpoena.

The AG’s office has investigated whether the Trump Organization committed fraud by reporting the value of certain properties to banks and tax authorities, and is considering filing a civil lawsuit against the company. Trump denied any wrongdoing and called the investigation a “witch hunt.”


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