Trump Accuses NY AG of 'Selective Prosecution' in Civil-Fraud Probe, Requests Dismissal of Subpoenas
The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James announced last month that the AG had taken legal action to compel former US President Donald Trump and his two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump, Jr., to deliver sworn testimony as part of AG's ongoing civil investigation into the Trump Organization.
Lawyers for former US President Donald Trump argued in a Tuesday court filing that the NY AG's office had violated the Equal Protection Clauses of both the US and NY State Constitutions through a practice of "selective prosecution" as a means to boost political clout.
Trump's lawyers, who are also representing Ivanka and Don Jr., went on to claim that information subpoenaed as part of the civil-fraud probe could be inappropriately used in a separate criminal investigation.
Per New York state law, witnesses who appear before a grand jury are traditionally granted immunity, prohibiting prosecutors from using the individual's statement in a separate case.
According to the 38-page filing in the Manhattan Supreme Court, the Trump lawyers claim that James "improperly and repeatedly threatened investigation and prosecution of former President Trump and his family as a campaign promise to garner votes, money and support, and now, as Attorney General, to gain political support."
The filing made no direct mention of the AG's claim that the Trump Organization obtained a host of economic benefits due to its consistent use of "fraudulent or misleading asset valuations
Trump attorneys backed their "selective prosecution" assertion by referencing several tweets and comments made by the NY AG, including a campaign video from September 28, 2018, when James publicly stated that she believed Trump had "engaged in a pattern and practice of money laundering " and "can be indicted for criminal offenses."
"She promised to investigate and prosecute him for money laundering, a baseless allegation as to which there is, to this day, no evidence," according to the Trump lawyers.
James' December 2021 appearance on ABC's "The View" was also presented by the Trump lawyers as an example of the AG unfairly targeting the ex-president and his family with statements that "are in blatant violation of the presumption of innocence, a hallmark of prosecutorial ethics."
Trump's legal team urged the judge to block James' subpoenas, or pause them until the conclusion of a parallel criminal probe into the Trump Organization launched by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
The Manhattan DA probe was launched by former Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance and has been taken over by Alvin Bragg, the new DA. James previously stated that two lawyers from her office are working with Manhattan prosecutors.
24 January 2022, 03:34 GMT
James defended her civil probe in a brief Tuesday statement that accused both Trump and his Trump Organization of attempting to "evade accountability."
"Throughout the three years of this investigation, they have never questioned our legal authority until Donald J. Trump himself was subpoenaed to testify," the NY AG observed.