The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday that they will be joining the Manhattan district attorney’s office in a criminal investigation of the Trump Organization.
James’ office had been conducting a civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s financial dealings since 2019. The investigation began shortly after Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, testified before Congress that Donald Trump and his organization intentionally inflated the value of assets to obtain favorable interest rates and loans while simultaneously deflating other assets to avoid taxes.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. was conducting a separate, criminal investigation that began in 2018 and focused primarily on claims that Trump used funds from his private charity to pay off women with whom he had extramarital affairs. This investigation expanded in 2020 when the Manhattan DA amended its complaint to encompass other potential criminal acts by Trump and his organization.
First reported by CNN, the investigation by James’ office will continue as a civil investigation, but the New York attorney general’s office notified the Trump Organization of the investigation’s new criminal component, on which they will be working with the Manhattan district attorney’s office. In a brief statement, James’ spokesperson Fabien Levy said, “We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA.”
Although representatives of Trump and his organization have repeatedly called these investigations politically motivated sideshows, the expanded scope of the New York attorney general’s investigation is a grim sign for Trump, especially after the Supreme Court denied Trump’s final attempt to block access to his tax returns in February.