The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James announced on Tuesday that it has informed the Trump Organization that its investigation into the business "is no longer purely civil in nature" and now has a "criminal capacity."
The declaration by James, which also ropes in Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., marks an escalation in the New York-based inquiries that have been looking for possible bank, tax, or insurance fraud by former President Donald Trump and his businesses. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and in February decried what he dubbed a "new phenomenon of ‘headhunting’ prosecutors and AGs."
“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," Fabien Levy, a spokesman for James, told the Washington Examiner.
The Washington Examiner reached out to Vance's office and the Trump Organization for comment about the announcement from the New York attorney general's office.
MUELLER PROSECUTOR SAYS 'FLIPPING' TRUMP ORGANIZATION CFO KEY TO CRIMINAL CASE
The state's investigation into the Trump Organization stretches back to at least August of 2020 when James announced that she was seeking a court order to require the Trump Organization and associated parties, including Trump's son Eric, to comply with subpoenas issued by the office of the attorney general.
James, a Democrat, was looking into "whether the Trump Organization and Donald J. Trump (Mr. Trump) improperly inflated the value of Mr. Trump’s assets on annual financial statements in order to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits," according to an Aug. 24 court filing.
Judge Arthur Engoron of the New York County Supreme Court ruled in December that the New York attorney general’s office should be given access to certain Trump Organization documents, and James celebrated then, saying, “Once again, justice and the rule of law prevailed. We will immediately move to ensure that the Trump Organization complies with the court’s order and submits records related to our investigation. My office's ongoing investigation will continue, as we continue to follow the facts wherever they may lead.”
Vance, who announced in March that he will not seek reelection this year, has been engaged in his own legal battle with Trump in recent months.
The United States Supreme Court said in its July 9 ruling in Trump v. Vance that Trump must let New York look at his tax returns as part of Vance's own criminal investigation into the former president. In a 7-2 decision, the court ruled that “Article II and the Supremacy Clause do not categorically preclude, or require a heightened standard for, the issuance of a state criminal subpoena to a sitting President.”
"This is all a political prosecution," Trump tweeted after that ruling. "I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!"
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that New York prosecutors subpoenaed a Manhattan private school as Vance tries to secure the cooperation of Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg in his inquiry into Trump and his company.
Officials in Palm Beach County, Florida, where Trump resides, have reportedly discussed the possibility of Trump being indicted on charges in association with Vance's investigation, including whether or not Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis must comply with any extradition notice under state law.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
The Supreme Court shot down Trump’s legal block efforts again in February, and Vance obtained Trump’s records the same month. Filings obtained by the district attorney reportedly contain millions of pages of documents related to Trump's tax returns from January 2011 to August 2019. Vance's pursuit of Trump's records is part of an extensive inquiry into the former president's real estate properties.
Trump had sued the district attorney and Mazars USA, Trump's personal accounting firm, in federal court to block the enforcement of the subpoena, arguing that it violated the separation of powers in the Constitution. He also called the inquiry a "continuation of the witch hunt." Despite the district attorney now having access to Trump's records, public release is governed by grand jury secrecy rules.
Trump, who has been out of the White House for nearly four months, is also facing an election interference investigation in Georgia.