Former US President Donald Trump lashed out at the New York attorney general after her investigation into the Trump Organization was deemed a criminal probe.
Letitia James, the state’s top prosecutor, has been scrutinizing the Republican leader’s financial dealings before he took office in 2016. A spokesperson for Ms. James said that the inquiry into Trump’s property company was “no longer purely civil.”
Ms. James’ spokesman, Fabien Levy, told the media on Tuesday: “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. We have no additional comment,” he added. However, the statement did not elaborate on why the investigation went from civil to criminal or whether the former president might be involved in any accusations.
In response, Mr. Trump accused the prosecutor of being “in desperate search of a crime.”
The state attorney general and the city district attorney offices are separate and have historically been rivals, National Public Radio (NPR) said. Their coordinated efforts reflect the high profile of the investigation.
NPR reported that the two prosecutors have been sifting through millions of pages of financial information in search of evidence.
On Wednesday, Mr. Trump stated that Ms. James and District Attorney Cyrus Vance, both Democrats, were “possessed” by their political vendettas against him. In a statement from his office, the former president rejected the inquiry, saying that it was “a continuation of the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of the United States.”
“After prosecutorial efforts the likes of which nobody has ever seen before, they failed to stop me in Washington, so they turned it over to New York to do their dirty work,” he wrote.
“This is what I have been going through for years,” he added. Besides, Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, condemned the investigation as “flagrant abuse of political office” and shared an old video of Mr. James on Twitter.
In the video, she vowed to pursue all legal options against Mr. Trump while still campaigning for the attorney general role.
Mr. Trump’s top allies, such as senior advisor Stephen Miller, commented on the video, saying that the US legal system was becoming “a weapon of vengeance not an instrument of justice.”
Ms. James launched a civil inquiry in March 2019, claiming that Mr. Trump had inflated the value of his assets to banks when seeking loans and underestimated them to reduce taxes. Also, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr said in August last year that his office was investigating alleged protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.