Updated Sep 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Key takeaways from New York AG’s lawsuit against Trump

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference regarding former US President Donald Trump and his family's financial fraud case on September 21, 2022 in New York
New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference on Sept. 21. Photo: Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty Images

New York Attorney General Letitia James' new civil lawsuit against Donald Trump lodges numerous accusations of fraud against him, three of his adult children and his business.

The big picture: James alleged the former president "falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars." The AG is seeking to permanently bar Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump — all named in the suit — from serving as an officer or director of a business registered in New York state. She is also seeking a $250 million judgment.

  • James alleged Trump and the Trump Organization from 2011 to 2021 created more than 200 "false and misleading valuations of assets on his annual Statements of Financial Condition to defraud financial institutions," per the AG office.

Why it matters: The former president now faces legal peril in at least three distinct cases — as the midterms and his decision on a 2024 presidential campaign loom.

  • Trump has denied the allegations, calling them a "witch hunt."
  • Here is a look at key accusations in the suit unveiled Wednesday.
James accused Trump of misrepresenting his net worth numerous times
  • The defendants allegedly used the annual statements to "provide funding or insurance on favorable terms or to comply with the terms of ongoing covenants with respect to transactions in which the parties were already engaged," per the lawsuit.
  • James said during a news conference Wednesday that the former president told Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg "that he wanted his net worth reflected on the statements to increase."
  • The statements were personally certified as accurate by Trump or one of his trustees, "with the intent that the information in the statement would be relied upon by banks and insurers," James said.
Trump's financial statements were also misleading in "presentation," per the lawsuit
  • James alleges that Trump claimed nearly all his statements of net worth were prepared in consultation with professionals.
  • "However, no outside professionals were retained to prepare any of the asset valuations for the statements," per James' office.
  • James' office added that the organization may have "ignored or contradicted" any external advice.
Trump's financial statements violated generally accepted accounting principles, James said
  • James also said that Trump's statements violated the U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, including ...
  • Representing that he had cash on hand when he did not; amending methodology used to value properties; and using different methods to value different properties, among other violations.
James outlines misconduct by Trump Organization across more than 23 properties and assets
  • Among the misconduct across the dozens of properties owned by Trump and the Trump Organization, James said the former president inflated the square footage of Trump Tower to increase its value.
  • "Based on that inflated square footage, the value of the apartment in 2015 and 2016 was $327 million," James said.
  • "To this date, no apartment in New York City has ever sold for close to that amount. Tripling the size of the apartment for purposes of the valuation was intentional and deliberate, fraud."
  • James also alleged that Trump for several years included in his "cash" amounts from the Vornado Partnership, "interests in which Mr. Trump had a minority stake and did not control."

What to watch: The lawsuit alleges that the defendants "also violated a host of state criminal laws" by misrepresenting the valued assets on yearly statements.

  • New York's attorney general office "is making a referral of its factual findings to the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York," per the suit.

Go deeper... Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg pleads guilty in tax scheme

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional background.

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