New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a staggering $250 million lawsuit against former President Donald Trump, his three adult children, the Trump Organization, and senior management in the company, alleging that they were involved in efforts to falsely inflate Trump’s assets by billions of dollars in order to mislead lenders and secure more favorable loans.
“The statements of financial condition were greatly exaggerated, grossly inflated, objectively false, and therefore fraudulent and illegal,” James said at a Wednesday press conference. “Claiming money that you do not have does not amount to the ‘Art of the Deal.’ It’s the Art of the Steal.”
While James filed a civil lawsuit, she said that her office is cooperating with a parallel criminal investigation run out of the Manhattan District Attorneys’ Office investigating similar alleged conduct and have also referred their findings the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service for criminal investigations.
James’ lawsuit alleges that Trump, with the help of his children Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric, and executives in the Trump Organization, falsely inflated Trump’s network to satisfy continuing loan covenants, secure insurance coverage for higher limits at lower premium, and to gain tax benefits, among other goals. James claims Trump and the Trump Organization made more than 200 inaccurate or misleading valuations for his assets, between 2011 and 2021. “There cannot be different rules for different people in this country or in this state,” James said. “And former presidents are not different.”
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Trump’s legal team did not respond to TIME’s request for comment. Trump’s children could not be immediately reached for comment. In a statement, the Trump Organization said that the filing “represents the culmination of nearly three years of persistent, targeted, unethical political harassment.”
“While the job of the Attorney General is to protect the interests of the public, today’s filing, for the first time in the history of the Attorney General’s office, seeks to protect the interests of large, sophisticated Wall Street banks,” the Trump Organization statement continued. “However, not only was no bank harmed—actually, they profited handsomely – to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in interest and fees—and never once took issue with any of the loans in question—all of which are either current or have been paid off (in many cases early).”
James said Wednesday that the New York Attorney General’s office is seeking to permanently ban Trump and his three children from serving as an officer or director in any New York corporation or similar business entity registered in New York state, bar Trump or the Trump Organization from entering into any New York real estate acquisitions for five years, and pay an estimate of all financial benefits obtained through the alleged fraud, which James estimated to roughly $250 million.
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