NY Attorney General, Sworn in Today, Pledged to “Use Every Area of the Law” to Investigate Trump

Published on January 2, 2019 by Athena Pallas

New York state today swore in the first African-American female Attorney General in its history, Letitia James (D), who recently vowed to “use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well”, according to The Hill. James is following in the footsteps of her last two predecessors, Barbara Underwood (D), James’s immediate predecessor in the job, and Eric Schneiderman (D), who both led successful lawsuits against Trump enterprises. According to The Hill:

Letitia James has been sworn in as New York attorney general after becoming the first African-American as well as the first woman to be elected to the position (Underwood was appointed, not elected, after Schneiderman stepped down). James was sworn in late Monday during a ceremony held at the State Capitol in Albany. She is the state’s 67th attorney general. “It is the highest honor to officially begin my time as the Attorney General for the great state of New York,” James said in a statement from the office…Prior to stepping down, Schneiderman sued Trump University in 2013, alleging illegal business practices, launched an investigation into the Trump Foundation and participated in a number of lawsuits challenging President Trump‘s policies since then. Underwood also filed a lawsuit against Trump in 2017 for alleged “improper and extensive political activity” and “self-dealing” by the Trump Foundation.

James will be continuing Underwood’s suit against Donald Trump and his three oldest children over allegations of self-dealing and financial improprieties in the operation of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a suit which in mid-December already led to the dissolution of the president’s self-named charity. Underwood described what she called a “shocking pattern of illegality” at the charity, saying, according to The Hill, “Mr. Trump used charitable assets to pay off the legal obligations of entities he controlled, to promote Trump hotels, to purchase personal items, and to support his presidential election campaign.” The state will now oversee disbursing the remainder of the Trump Foundation’s assets to reputable organizations. The lawsuit will still continue under James’s watch even though the Trump Foundation has agreed to dissolve – the suit seeks some $2.8 million in restitution as well to bar Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump from being on the board of any other New York charities due to their conduct at the Trump Foundation.

Donald Trump’s home state 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. Letitia James said in a mid-December interview with 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, dissolving charitable organization, and longtime primary residence are/were all in New York state.

Among the additional items James said she 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.

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 tomorrow, a majority that now gives Democrats the power to issue subpoenas, both of Trump administration officials and of documents, including Trump’s income taxes, and the power to 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.

Featured image by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.