After years of investigations and legal battles, a lawsuit has been filed against former US President Donald Trump. New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday filed a broad civil fraud lawsuit against Trump, his company and their three children, Donald Junior, Eric and Ivanka, among others. They are said to have manipulated the goodwill of the Trump Organization on a large scale and for years.
According to the allegations, the Trumps are said to have increased or decreased their finances as needed, for example to get loans more easily or to pay less taxes. Deutsche Bank is also said to have granted such loans, James said. With the lawsuit, she wants to achieve, among other things, that the Trumps have to pay $ 250 million as compensation.
"Donald Trump falsely inflated his fortune by billions of dollars to unfairly enrich himself and to trick the system - and by extension all of us," James said. She led civil investigations into Trump's corporate empire for three years, said she spoke to 65 witnesses and evaluated "millions of documents". Over a decade, Trump and the other defendants reported false valuations of assets in more than 200 counts. The 220-page lawsuit contains many examples, James said.
Trump's company denies the allegations. "As we all know, today's indictment has nothing to do with the facts or the law," the Trump Organization said on Wednesday, according to the New York Times. "Instead, it's about politics, quite simply."
Trump sees himself as a victim
In the United States, Attorneys General usually belong to a party and are elected by the people in many states. James is a member of the Democratic Party and serves in the New York state government. The ex-president, who belongs to the Republican Party, has therefore repeatedly described the process as politically motivated, and on Wednesday Trump spoke of "another witch hunt" against him.
Fight on many fronts
Donald Trump has fought numerous conflicts with the US judiciary for decades. Even as a construction mogul, he was involved in legal disputes. During his presidency from 2017 to 2021, he was repeatedly targeted by the judiciary. For example, FBI special investigator Robert Muller investigated whether there were secret collusion between Trump's campaign team and representatives of Russia.
Since the end of his presidency, Trump has struggled on multiple fronts with legal issues or investigations that could have legal ramifications for the 76-year-old. A committee of inquiry is looking into Trump's role in the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 - it could end up recommending that he be prosecuted.
The FBI also searched Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach in early August. The background is Trump's handling of secret documents from his tenure, which is now being investigated. Another offense in Georgia is whether Trump may have improperly pressured the election officials to give him additional votes in the 2020 election.
What the lawsuit aims to achieve
Attorney General James said she wanted to prevent Trump or his children from ever serving on the boards of directors of companies in New York. She demands that they all be banned from taking out loans or buying real estate for five years. James also believes that Trump may also have violated New York state criminal law and violated US federal laws. She said she also turned the results over to the IRS and prosecutors for possible criminal investigations.
It is unclear how the process will affect Trump's political career and upcoming elections in the United States. Trump has repeatedly indicated that he wants to run again for president in 2024, but has not yet officially announced this. Experts consider it unlikely that one of the often multi-year procedures with opportunities for revision and renegotiation before the election in November 2024 would lead to a conviction.