New York Attorney General Letitia James ran for office in 2018 on a campaign promise to charge then-President Trump with crimes.
She is relying on the testimony of Michael Cohen. Once the president’s loyal attorney, he pleaded guilty in 2018 and went to prison for tax fraud in a side taxi cab business and for lying to banks to obtain mortgages. He admitted to violating a campaign finance law in the 2016 election. Mr. Cohen said he was directed by Mr. Trump to pay a Playboy model not to run her story in the National Enquirer about an alleged affair with the candidate.
Mr. Cohen turned on Mr. Trump and emerged from prison as a ubiquitous informant/social media fixture.
Last week, Ms. James’ office issued a statement: “We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA. We have no additional comment at this time.”
The Manhattan district attorney is Cyrus Vance, also an elected Democrat from a family line of Democratic Party officialdom. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday Mr. Vance has convened a grand jury.
Before the 2018 New York Democratic primary, at a time when special counsel Robert Mueller was in his second year trying to find a Trump-Kremlin conspiracy, Ms. James put herself in the same camp as Mr. Mueller and elevated Mr. Cohen as her star witness.
“The president of the United States has to worry about three things; Mueller, Cohen, and Tish James,” she told Yahoo News. “We’re all closing in on him.”
Mr. Mueller, whose team acquired testimony from Mr. Cohen, did not file charges against Mr. Trump and did not establish a Trump campaign conspiracy.
Ms. James won the hard-fought Sept. 13 primary with a campaign video in which she said she was running because “I will never be afraid to challenge this illegitimate president.”
Her video stands as her anti-Trump manifesto being carried out today.
“He should be charged with obstructing justice,” she said. “I believe that the president of these United States can be indicted for criminal offenses. We will join law enforcement and other attorneys general across this nation in removing this president from office. And in addition to that the office of attorney general will continue to follow the money because we believe he has engaged in the practice of money laundering, laundering the money from foreign governments here in New York state, particularly related to his real estate holdings. It’s important that everyone understand that the days of Donald Trump are coming to an end.”
In her winning acceptance speech in November, she said of the man who has done business in New City for over 50 years and hosted a hit network TV show, “New Yorkers, we can spot a con man. We can spot a carnival barker. I will shine a light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings and every dealing.”
The Washington Times asked the Attorney General’s press office if Mr. Trump can receive a fair investigation given the fact Ms. James has already stated before taking office he is guilty of crimes. The office did not respond.
Fox News TV host Mark Levin, a strong supporter of Mr. Trump’s presidency, appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox show Tuesday night to condemn what he sees as a New York Democratic Party hit job on the former president.
“They’re acting like the Soviet communist party in the city of New York, in the state of New York where they go after politicians and former officials they don’t agree with,” Mr. Levin said.
“What are they doing to Donald Trump,” he said. “They’re digging into his tax returns. The they’re threatening his longtime financial officer [Allen Weisselberg]….. The feds already investigated Trump. Clean. Now the politicians, the Democratic Party in New York and the state. You have an attorney general who is a complete hack, Letitia James. She came into office saying she was going to go after Trump. You have this Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, who’s a real punk. A political hack.”
He further stated, “I want the American people to understand. They are trying to drag this president, our president Trump in front of this grand jury. A Democrat Party, Democrat city, Democrat state, to find something, anything they can use against him because they don’t want him to run for office again and they are trying to destroy him.”
Mr. Trump has hinted in a series of interviews that he will again run for president in 2024. Polls show he is the Republican voters’ top pick at this point.
During his presidency, the Trump Organization was run by sons, Donald Jr., and Eric, who are co-executive vice presidents. Eric, under subpoena, provided a closed-door deposition to Ms. James’ office. The ex-president gave up his New York legal residence and moved to his luxury resort Mar-a-Lago in Florida. He is listed on the organization website as “founder.”
The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Post and other news sites have reported that the James/Vance team are looking at how the organization valued their properties to gain millions of dollars in loans. The prosecutors also won a legal battle to obtain Mr. Trump’s tax returns.
A Trump Organization representative provided a statement to the New York Post at the time Ms. James was trying to force Eric Trump to talk last summer.
The spokesperson said, “While we have tried to cooperate in good faith with the investigation at every turn, the NYAG’s continued harassment of the company as we approach the election (and filing of this motion on the first day of the Republican National Convention) once again confirms that this investigation is all about politics.”
After news broke about the city grand jury convening, Don Jr. retweeted a tweet by Mike Davis, former counsel to Sen. Charles Grassley, Iowa Republican.
“Since 1923, the Trump Family has built a worldwide real-estate and hospitality empire,” Mr. Davis said. “Now, highly partisan Democrat prosecutors are on a witch hunt to find paperwork ‘crimes.’
And they ignore clear evidence of foreign corruption and other real crimes by the Biden Crime Family.”
Mr. Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, led a probe into Biden family finances. Their report showed that Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son, reaped millions of dollars in payments from a Moscow oligarch, a Ukraine oligarch and a communist party-linked Chinese tycoon who disappeared amid corruption charges. The payments came while Mr. Biden was vice president, and afterwards. Hunter Biden said in messages found on his discarded laptop computer that he shared his proceeds with his father.
On May 20, Eric Trump tweeted after a night of violence in New York, “Nothing to see here… but let’s harass Trump. It’s so unbelievably sad.”
For Mr. Trump, being investigated has become a way of life from his campaign to his presidency to election defeat.
Democratic Party operates paid for a Kremlin-sourced dossier that made over a dozen felony claims against Mr. Trump and his campaign in a supposed election conspiracy with Russia. Democrats fed the allegations from ex-British spy Christopher Steele to the FBI, Justice Department, State Department, Obama National Security Council and congressional Democrats. For over two years, the dossier, and its Kremlin disinformation, was the central document in Democrats trying to bring down the president.
Now, Democrats are targeting the Trump brand — his business empire of condos, resorts, golf courses and hotels.
Former Trump loyalist Cohen, released early from prison due to the COVID pandemic, has created a second life as an intense critic. He is cooperating with James-Vance, wrote an anti-Trump book, does a podcast and appears on liberal cable TV.
“I think Donald Trump is going to flip on all of them,” he said. “What do you think about that. Including his children. What’s going to happen when all of a sudden they turn around and they start asking him about his tax return or about the devaluation of the assets or the way that he took deductions.”
Mr. Cohen then mimicked Mr. Trump. “‘I don’t do my taxes. It’s my accountant.’”
“He’s going to turn on his accountant and point the finder. He’s going to say, ‘Don Jr. handled that. Ivanka handled that. Melania. Don’t take me. Take Melania.’ He’s going to tell them to take everyone except for himself.”
• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at email@example.com.
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