New York Attorney General Letitia James is joining the Manhattan district attorney’s office in a criminal investigation of the Trump Organization, James’ office said Tuesday.
The attorney general office’s investigation into the Trump Organization, which has been underway since 2019, will also continue as a civil probe, but the office recently informed Trump Organization officials of the criminal component.
“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,” James’ spokesman Fabien Levy told CNN. “We have no additional comment.”
In an increasingly serious sign for former President Donald Trump, the attorney general’s office is working with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, whose wide-sweeping probe into the Trump Organization has looked into whether the company misled lenders and insurance companies about the value of properties and whether it paid the appropriate taxes. James’ notification to the organization brings a new level of potential legal risk to the former President, with the attorney general now able to seek criminal penalties as part of the probe.
Trump on Wednesday blasted the criminal probe of his company as “corrupt.”
“There is nothing more corrupt than an investigation that is in desperate search of a crime. But, make no mistake, that is exactly what is happening here,” he said in a lengthy statement.
The former president accused James of leaking information about the scope of her investigation to the media and ignoring “real issues” related to crime in New York City. In his statement, Trump attempted to cast the investigation as tainted from its outset — claiming that James “swore that she would ‘definitely sue’ me.”
A lawyer for the Trump Organization had previously declined to comment when reached by CNN.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office is examining millions of pages of documents that include Trump’s tax returns.
A person familiar with the investigation said a couple of investigators with the New York attorney general’s office, who are steeped in knowledge about the Trump Organization, have joined the district attorney’s team. A different person familiar with the matter said the New York attorney general is still conducting a civil investigation.
Trump has previously called the New York attorney general’s investigation politically motivated.
For the past two years, James’ office looked into matters including whether or not it improperly inflated assets on financial statements to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits, as well as how Trump Organization employees were compensated.
Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen testified before Congress in 2019 that Trump’s annual financial statements inflated the value of his assets to secure favorable loans and insurance coverage, but deflated the value of other assets to reduce real estate taxes.
Investigators have deposed multiple Trump Organization officials including Eric Trump, the former President’s son, and Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.
Trump’s longtime tax attorney Sheri Dillon was also deposed but the state says she declined to answer certain questions.
Several Trump Organization properties’ financial dealings are being scrutinized as part of the investigation, including Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County, New York; 40 Wall Street, a building in Lower Manhattan; Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago; and Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles.
This story has been updated with Trump reaction.