In the latest blow to Donald J. Trump, a federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by the former president that sought to end the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into his business practices.
The decision, in federal court in Albany, was Mr. Trump’s second defeat related to the investigation in two days. An appeals court on Thursday ordered Mr. Trump and two of his children to sit down for questioning under oath by the office of state Attorney General Letitia James.
Together, the decisions pave the way for Ms James to complete her investigation in the weeks or months to come. Although Ms James, a Democrat running for re-election, does not have the power to bring charges against Mr Trump or his family’s real estate business, she can take legal action if she finds they committed a wrongdoing. fraud.
Last month, one of his lawyers indicated that a lawsuit could be filed soon, saying the office was preparing “enforcement action” in the near future.
It is unclear whether Mr. Trump plans to appeal either decision. His lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“The courts have made it clear that Donald J. Trump’s baseless legal challenges cannot stop our legal investigation into his financial dealings and those of the Trump Organization,” Ms. James said in a statement. “No one in this country can choose how the law applies to them, and Donald Trump is no exception. As we have always said, we will pursue this investigation undeterred.
Mr. Trump’s attorneys filed a federal lawsuit in December, arguing that Ms. James’ public criticism of Mr. Trump and the subpoenas she issued to him and his company , violated several of his constitutional rights, including those to free speech and due process. .
In Friday’s decision, Brenda K. Sannes, the federal judge, rejected Mr. Trump’s claim that Ms. James’ investigation was politically motivated and violated his rights.
Mr Trump’s lawsuit had cited a litany of public statements by Ms James criticizing Mr Trump, including a 2017 tweet stating that she was “leading the resistance against Donald Trump in New York”.
Although Ms. James’ public statements may reflect political or personal animosity toward Mr. Trump, the judge said, her comments were not sufficient to prove that the attorney general infringed on Mr. Trump’s rights.
Judge Sannes also found “no evidence that the proceedings to enforce the subpoena were conducted in a manner that constituted harassment”.
Mr Trump denied any wrongdoing and blasted Ms James, calling her investigation a “witch hunt”.
His investigation focuses on his annual financial statements, which contain the estimated values of his golf courses, hotels and other properties. Ms James is investigating whether Mr Trump and his company falsely – and fraudulently – inflated those values to secure loans and other financial benefits.
Understanding the Trump investigation of the New York AG
An empire under surveillance. Letitia James, the New York State Attorney General, is currently conducting a civil investigation into the business practices of former President Donald J. Trump. Here’s what you need to know:
In a court filing this year, Ms James revealed that Mr Trump’s longtime accounting firm had severed ties with him and essentially retracted nearly a decade of financial statements.
She also argued, in a separate filing, that the Trump Organization had engaged in “fraudulent or deceptive” practices. But his attorneys said they needed to gather additional records and testimony, from Mr Trump in particular, before they could decide whether to pursue legal action.
Last month, a Manhattan state judge, Arthur F. Engoron, found Mr. Trump in contempt of court for failing to fully comply with Ms. James’ subpoena requesting her personal records. (The judge recently issued the contempt order, after Mr. Trump paid a $110,000 fine and filed additional documents.)
Judge Engoron also ordered Mr Trump – along with two of his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump – to be questioned under oath by Ms James’ office. In its decision on Thursday, a New York state appeals court upheld that order.
As Ms. James steps up her civil investigation, Mr. Trump also faces a criminal investigation from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office into some of the same business practices that Ms. James is examining.
But as the criminal investigation continues, prosecutors stopped presenting evidence on Mr. Trump to a grand jury earlier this year.