In response to New York Attorney General Letitia James’s civil investigation, Donald Trump has taken the stance that the “Trump Organization” simply cannot be sued because it does not legally exist.
According to James, the former president and his business empire—including his eldest children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric, as well as former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and other associates—inflated the value of their net worth and assets by billions in an attempt to take advantage of tax and other financial benefits.
More on the Allegations
James alleges that the Trump Organization and its representatives made over 200 false or misleading claims between 2011 and 2021, purposefully overestimating the worth of 23 assets related to the Trump Organization, such as the Trump Tower in Manhattan.
The lawsuit seeks to recover $250 million in penalties and revenue and permanently ban Trump and his children from doing business or holding offices in the state of New York.
The investigation has been three years in the making, brought on by the criminal probe that was instigated after former Attorney Michael Cohen’s statements in the congressional testimony of 2019.
In that time, interviews with 65 witnesses have been collected and millions of documents have been reviewed.
Two of the Trump Organization’s subsidiaries, The Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation, have already been convicted of fraud in a separate case on counts of falsifying business records, tax fraud, scheming to defraud, and conspiracy.
Weisselberg was also sentenced to five months in jail in August for participating in a scheme in which he was paid generous benefits by Trump’s companies, including tuition for his grandchildren, free rent, and luxury car leases that were not reported on his taxes.
Trump’s Attempts to Sue James
For over a year, Mr. Trump has attempted to file his own lawsuits against Attorney General James, calling the case a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
However, after Trump was recently fined $1 million for filing frivolous, politically motivated lawsuits, he abandoned his countersue efforts.
Deemed to be an “obstruction of justice” and “pattern of abuse of the courts” by a federal judge, the fine was not actually about the case against James but a response to Trump’s lawsuits against Hilary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and others involved in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump claimed these parties “rigged” the election in an attempt to prevent him from winning and created a “false narrative” to smear his campaign. However, the suit was dismissed in September 2022 after being found to lack substance and legal support.
Is the Trump Organization “Real”?
Now, with the trial date drawing nearer and documents being readied, Trump has taken a different approach. The former president recently stated that he simply cannot be sued, as the Trump Organization does not legally exist as a business.
According to the businessman, it’s an umbrella term used for “branding and business purposes” rather than the name of a legal entity.
For the time being, Trump and his company are blocked from transferring any assets without notifying the Attorney General’s Office and the court. This monitoring of the organization’s business dealings will likely continue until the trial occurs in October.