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New York AG’s Trump civil lawsuit may not translate into criminal charges

September 22, 2022

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On Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a new civil lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and his children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric, alleging that the Trump Organization engaged in fraudulent misrepresentations of assets to get more favorable financial deals.

Leslie Silva, a partner at Tully Rinckey, told Capital Tonight that the attorney general has a difficult task of assessing the damages “because a lot of her case is speculation” about more favorable businesses deals.

In the lawsuit announced on Wednesday, the attorney general alleges that Trump and the Trump Organization violated New York Executive Law, which bans persistent and repeated business fraud. The alleged fraud laid out in the case says some properties like 40 Wall Street in Manhattan was appraised by a bank to be worth around $200 million but the Trump Organization reported the value to be double that to get more favorable business terms.

The attorney general is pursuing a ban on Trump and the organization from entering commercial real estate deals or getting loans from state regulated banks for five years. A permanent ban on the former president and his adult children from holding an officer or director role in a New York corporation is also included.

In a post on his social media site, Truth Social, the former president said the lawsuit was “another witch hunt” brought on by “really bad poll numbers” for the attorney general who is running for re-election in November.

The action taken on Wednesday is a civil case because the attorney general does not have the power in this case without a referral to pursue criminal charges. However, the attorney general has made criminal referrals the case to the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service. Silva said the burden of proof is higher in a criminal case compared to a civil one so this case may not lead to criminal charges for the former president, his children, or the other people named in the lawsuit.

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