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NY AG James May Sue Trump Soon—And His Kids—After Reportedly Rejecting Settlement Offer

Forbes 9/15/2022 Alison Durkee, Forbes Staff


New York Attorney General Letitia James may sue former President Donald Trump for fraud soon after rejecting an offer from his attorneys to settle the case against him, the New York Times reports, as part of a long-running civil investigation into the Trump Organization and its financial dealings—which could also punish at least one of Trump’s children.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower to meet with New York Attorney General Letitia James on August 10 in New York City. GC Images © Provided by Forbes Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower to meet with New York Attorney General Letitia James on August 10 in New York City. GC Images

Key Facts

James’ office has rejected at least one settlement offer from Trump’s legal team after negotiations started over the summer, the Times reports based on anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

It’s still possible that a deal could be reached and negotiations are expected to continue in the coming days, the Times reports, but notes the talks have so far “yet to gather much momentum.”

Trump could be sued for fraud if negotiations fail, the Times notes, and the publication reports the AG’s office is also considering suing at least one of Trump’s children—Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., or Eric Trump—who have all served as Trump Organization executives.

The possible lawsuit comes after James’ office subpoenaed Trump for documents and testimony, though the ex-president refused to answer questions and plead the Fifth Amendment when he was deposed in August.

Trump’s children have also all testified in the probe, with the Times reporting that Eric Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment rights more than 500 times but Ivanka and Donald Trump, Jr., both answered questions.

What To Watch For

Any lawsuit filed against Trump or his children will be civil rather than criminal, meaning they would pay financial penalties rather than face criminal charges or prison time. The potential financial consequences could go as far as a court ordering the dissolution of the Trump Organization, though the Times notes that James has said in interviews she doesn’t want to go that far.

Key Background

James’ office has been conducting a civil probe into the Trump Organization and its financial dealings since March 2019, which expanded to include a separate criminal investigation in May 2021. The investigation is looking into whether the Trump Organization fraudulently inflated or deflated the value of his assets on financial statements for personal gain, which the AG’s office revealed in January it had found “significant” evidence of. The AG’s office is working in cooperation with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which has also been conducting a criminal probe of the Trump Organization since July 2019. Trump himself has not yet faced any consequences in that investigation, but the Trump Organization and its longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg were indicted in July 2021 for alleged tax fraud. Weisselberg has taken a plea deal confessing his guilt to all 15 charges against him, which will result in a five-month prison sentence, while the Trump Organization will face a trial in October for its alleged crimes.

Further Reading

N.Y. Attorney General May Sue Trump After Rejecting Settlement Offer (New York Times)

Trump Refuses To Answer Questions In Deposition By N.Y. Attorney General (Forbes)

Letitia James vs. Donald J. Trump: What is New York's attorney general about to do to Trump and his company? (Insider)

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