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N.Y. AG’s lawyer says evidence supports legal action against Trump

New York Attorney General Letitia James.Seth Wenig/Associated Press

NEW YORK — As a federal judge weighs Donald Trump’s lawsuit seeking to halt a civil investigation into his business practices, a lawyer for the New York attorney general’s office said Friday that evidence found throughout the three-year probe could support legal action against the former president, his company, or both.

The lawyer, Andrew Amer, said at a hearing in Trump’s lawsuit against Attorney General Letitia James that “there’s clearly been a substantial amount of evidence amassed that could support the filing of an enforcement proceeding,” although a final determination on filing such an action has not been made.

Amer, a special litigation counsel in James’ office, said the office is “nearing the end” of the civil investigation, which James has said uncovered evidence Trump’s company misstated the value of assets like skyscrapers and golf courses on financial statements for more than a decade.

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James could decide to bring a lawsuit and seek financial penalties against Trump or his company, or even a ban on them being involved in certain types of businesses, as happened in January when a judge barred ex-drug company CEO Martin Shkreli from the pharmaceutical industry for life.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has said that a parallel criminal investigation into Trump is continuing, although the term of a grand jury hearing evidence in that matter expired last month.

Mark Pomerantz, who was leading the criminal probe, said in a February resignation letter that he believed there was “evidence sufficient to establish Mr. Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” for falsifying financial statements.

Trump has denied wrongdoing. His lawyers contend James is using her civil investigation to gain access to information that could then be used against him in the criminal matter.

Trump’s lawyer, seeking to halt the civil investigation, argued at Friday’s hearing that James’s probe is a politically motivated fishing expedition and that by targeting him, she is violating Trump’s constitutional right to equal protection under the law.

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Trump, a Republican, is seeking an injunction to stop the civil investigation. James, a Democrat, has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. US District Judge Brenda Sannes said she would consider both requests and deliver a decision in writing. She did not give a timetable for a ruling.

Sannes listened to arguments from Amer and Trump lawyer Alina Habba for about an hour via video and asked probing questions about recent legal battles over subpoenas for Trump’s testimony and evidence, and the role of federal courts intervening in a state matter.

Habba argued at Friday’s hearing that James was investigating Trump to make good on promises she made during her campaign for attorney general in 2018, using the office to harass him and his company with myriad subpoenas and evidence requests.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former VP to attend campaign rally for Georgia governor

Former vice president Mike Pence will travel to Georgia to headline a rally for Governor Brian Kemp on the day before the state’s primary election, Kemp’s campaign announced Friday.

The former vice president’s visit presents yet another front of the growing proxy war between former president Donald Trump and Republicans who want to see Kemp reelected. Trump has focused his fire on Kemp for refusing to overturn the results of the last presidential election in the state and has backed former Senator David Perdue, once a Kemp ally, in the May 24 primary. But Kemp has maintained a double-digit lead over Perdue and out-raised him nearly 10-to-1.

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In a statement, Pence praised Kemp as “one of the most successful conservative governors in America.”

“Brian Kemp is my friend, a man dedicated to faith, family and the people of Georgia,” Pence said. “I am proud to offer my full support for four more years of Brian Kemp as governor of the great state of Georgia!”

The former vice president’s visit will follow a series of campaign events that Kemp has planned with a handful of Republican governors, who were blasted by Trump for their support of Kemp. Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona, Governor Pete Ricketts of Nebraska and former governor Chris Christie of New Jersey are all scheduled to tour Georgia during the final week of early voting in the state.

NEW YORK TIMES