It Never Ends: New York AG Letitia James Files Anti-Trump Civil Suit
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday that she’s bringing a $250 million civil suit against President Trump, three of his adult children, and Trump Organization executives Allen Weisselberg and Jeff McConney for inflating Trump’s net worth and the values of his properties. We learn several things from this.
Lessons From Letitia
1. Letitia James is up for re-election on November 8.
2. Letitia James is trying to fulfill her original campaign promise to “get Trump.”
(Yes, she actually ran on this very issue in 2018 — but try as she might, she didn’t have evidence for a criminal case. If she had, she would’ve brought one.)
3. Letitia James shows us that the weaponization of the federal bureaucracy extends into some of the states as well, certainly her own.
(During her campaign, she said she “would join with other attorneys general across this nation in removing this President from Office.”)
4. Letitia James is up for re-election on November 8. Did I say that already?
5. It’s a good thing — if you’re Letitia James talking about President Trump — to say a duly-elected President is illegitimate.
(In a campaign ad from 2018, she said, “I’m running for attorney general because I will never be afraid to challenge this illegitimate President, when our fundamental rights are at stake.”)
6. Last but not least, did I mention that Letitia James is up for re-election on November 8?
See how much we learned? During her campaign in 2018, she smiled into the camera and said, “Oh, we’re going to definitely sue him. We’re gonna be a real pain in the a**. He’s going to know my name personally.” (In other words: Show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime. We’ll figure out the charges later.)
Massive Incoming Lawfare
A footnote in this new court filing says she’s passing along her findings to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, who could possibly open a criminal investigation into bank fraud. Never mind that the Manhattan DA’s office has been investigating Trump and his family for years and finally declined to press criminal charges.
Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment rights when James subpoenaed him last month. In a criminal trial, that is not evidence or even implication of guilt and, under our Constitution, cannot lawfully be taken as such. We noted at the time Trump took the Fifth that he was already the target of massive “incoming” lawfare — the Mar-a-Lago raid, for crying out loud — and couldn’t possibly have been expected to prepare for every question they might ask. He and his attorneys knew prosecutors were just waiting for him to get some small detail wrong. Can you say “perjury trap”? (And perjury IS criminal.)
At the time, we were glad he’d declined the invitation. But as commentators on the left are gleefully reporting, the jury in a civil trial does get to interpret this negatively if they so choose. I hope jurors understand that if the plaintiff pleads the Fifth hundreds of times, it’s only because they’re being asked hundreds of questions. If you plead the Fifth for one question, you have to do it for them all.
Last month on Truth Social, Trump said,
I once asked, if you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment? Now I know the answer to that question. When your family, your company and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt, supported by lawyers, prosecutors and the Fake News Media, you have no choice.
‘Obsessed’ With Trump
James, in her press conference Wednesday, said she’s going after Trump for such nefarious activities as exaggerating the size of his apartment square footage. He did this to “deceive banks and deceive the people of the great state of New York.” She even came up with this really, really clever turn of phrase that no one’s ever thought of before: “the art of the steal.” Isn’t that creative?
Legal expert Harmeet Dhillon said on Tucker’s show that James seems “obsessed” with Trump and denies the legitimacy of his election. (Note: it’s fine when Democrats are “election deniers.”) Dhillon noted that James is trailing in the polls and suggested this is really about boosting her ratings. James absolutely could not find any crime on which to indict Trump, so she’s filed a 220-page complaint and gone the civil-suit route instead.
As Dhillon pointed out, fraud has a statute of limitations of six years, and what James is looking at goes back even to before Trump was in office. It’s “stale, old stuff,” she said, “that nobody bothered about until this time.”
And this is key: “What we’re really talking about is valuation of assets that were heavily negotiated with banks.” James’ complaint displays “a shocking naivete about the realities of business, about the realities of how properties are financed…” This is “small-potatoes stuff.” The banks never even complained; there was no victim. If anyone else had done it, it would not be singled out. This is “entirely political,” she said, and “not how an attorney general in the United States should be using their awesome power.”
Solely Focused on a Political Agenda
This report from the Daily Caller includes the statement from Trump attorney Alina Habba. “Today’s filing is neither focused on the facts nor the law,” she said. “Rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda.”
Kurt Schlichter has some fun with this development in a series of tweets predicting how this “dog’s breakfast of a complaint” will go. He reminds us that you can’t have a civil suit without allegations of harm: “You cannot sue if you did not suffer a loss.” He says “there are reasons to dismiss that just leap off the page.”
They chose a civil suit, he said, because they don’t need proof beyond reasonable doubt, only the standard of “preponderance of the evidence.” Also, “they chose civil ‘fraud’ to impress dumb people.” They filed the suit “in time to influence the election” but not early enough “that this garbage case could be tossed out before the election.” Though it certainly should be.
Mike Huckabee is the former governor of Arkansas and longtime conservative commentator on issues in culture and current events. A New York Times best-selling author, he hosts the weekly talk show Huckabee on TBN.
Originally published at MikeHuckabee.com. Reprinted with permission.