Donald Trump’s home state, New York, may be changing its attorney general, but its firm stance of fully investigating Trump and holding him responsible for the findings has not only been maintained, but apparently strengthened. The next New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), who takes office in January, said in interview by NBC News today, according to The Hill, that “We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well. We want to investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law.” New York state does have jurisdiction over many of Trump’s activities, since his businesses, 2016 and 2020 campaign headquarters, charitable organization, and longtime primary residence are all in New York state.
James’s last two predecessors as New York attorney general, Eric Schneiderman (D) and Barbara Underwood (D), both pursued lawsuits against Trump over his business practices, potential legal violations by Trump’s charitable organization, and the Trump administration’s policies. Among the items James said she now plans to investigate are Trump’s real estate transactions, the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, Trump’s activities during his 2016 campaign, and potential violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. According to The Hill:
James said she plans to probe any illegitimacies concerning Trump’s real estate holdings in New York, particularly in light of an October New York Times investigation, which found that Trump participated in “dubious tax schemes” in the 1990s that helped him earn additional wealth from his father’s real estate business…Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) sued Trump University, the business mogul’s for-profit real estate training program, in 2013, alleging illegal business practices. Schneiderman, who resigned in May amid allegations that he abused multiple women, also launched an investigation into the Trump Foundation and participated in a number of lawsuits challenging Trump’s policies as president. Schneiderman’s successor, Barbara Underwood, also filed a lawsuit earlier this year against Trump for alleged “improper and extensive political activity” and “self-dealing” by the Trump Foundation. James will take over for Underwood in January.
President Trump may not like it, but he can also expect a new avenue of investigation against him, namely the Democratic majority House that starts in January, where Democrats will now have the power to issue subpoenas, both of Trump administration officials and of documents, including Trump’s income taxes, and conduct investigations. From James’s statements, New York state is certainly at least maintaining, if not increasing, the intensity of its investigations. And of course Robert Mueller’s investigation continues, with that investigation also appearing to pose increased risks to Trump, following filings last Friday that revealed that Trump allegedly directed and coordinated the campaign finance violations to which former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty, violations involving payments to two women with whom Trump allegedly had affairs. Those filings open up the possibility that Trump could be indicted for two felonies just from what is known now, although such an indictment, if ever filed, would likely not be filed while Trump is a sitting president.