Court dismisses Trump’s lawsuit against New York Attorney General James

Former US President Donald Trump watches a press conference announcing a class action lawsuit against big tech companies at the Trump National Golf Club at Bedminster on July 7, 2021 in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

On Friday, a judge dismissed a federal lawsuit by former President Donald Trump seeking to obstruct a civil investigation into his business by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

U.S. District Judge Brenda Sannes’ ruling comes a day after a New York State Court of Appeals upheld a subpoena issued by James compelling Trump and his two adult children to appear for questioning under oath as part of her investigation.

James, in a Twitter post on Friday, called the latest ruling in her favor a “big win.”

“Rough lawsuits will not prevent us from completing our legitimate and legitimate investigation,” James tweeted.

Trump and his Trump Organization filed a lawsuit against James in federal court for the Northern District of New York in December.

The lawsuit alleged that the Attorney General violated their rights with her investigation into allegations that the company illegally manipulated the stated valuations of various real estate assets for financial gain.

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Trump and his company claimed that James’s “pejorative” comments about him when she was running for office and after she was elected showed that she was taking revenge on Trump with her investigation, which was launched “in bad faith and without legally sufficient grounds.”

Sannes, in her 43-page ruling on Friday, dismissed those arguments, writing, “Plaintiffs have not established that defendant initiated legal proceedings in New York to otherwise harass them.”

Sannes noted that James said her investigation was launched as a result of Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress in 2019.

“Mr. Cohen showed that Mr. Trump’s financial statements for 2011-2013 variously overstated or understated the value of his assets in line with his interests,” Sannes wrote.

The judge also noted that federal case law, embodied in the 1971 ruling known as Younger v. Harris, states that “Federal courts should generally refrain from ordering or otherwise interfering in ongoing state litigation.”

Sannes said Trump failed to provide facts that would justify an exception to the case law applied in his lawsuit.

“Plaintiffs could file a lawsuit and seek the relief they seek in a federal lawsuit” in Manhattan state court, Sannes wrote.

The parties have already litigated on numerous issues related to the James investigation in Manhattan Supreme Court.

James, in a prepared statement, said, “Time and again, the courts have made it clear that Donald J. Trump’s unsubstantiated legal claims cannot stop our legitimate investigation into his financial dealings and those of the Trump Organization.”

“No one in this country can choose how the law is applied to them, and Donald Trump is no exception. As we have said, we will steadily continue this investigation,” James said.

Trump’s attorney, Alina Khabba, said in an emailed statement, “There is no doubt that we will be appealing this decision.”

“If Ms. James’s egregious behavior and harassing investigation does not fit with an unfair exception to Younger’s abstinence doctrine, then I cannot imagine a scenario that would,” Hubba wrote, referring to the case law element of Sannes’ decision from Jr. v. Harris.

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