Trump faces jail time, now that NY Attorney General launches criminal probe
Evan Vucci/AP

NEW YORK — In a move that surely has all corners of Trump World worried, the New York attorney general’s office said yesterday that it is conducting a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s businesses, expanding what had previously been only a civil probe. The difference between them is that now jail time – rather than just fines – is on the agenda.

“We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the company is no longer purely civil in nature,” Fabien Levy, a spokesperson for Attorney General Letitia James, said in a statement. “We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA,” Levy said.

James’ investigators have been working with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which has already been conducting a criminal investigation into Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, for two years.

Legal experts across the board say that there must be some significant evidence pointing to crimes for the attorney general to make this move. It has to worry Republicans who continue to tie themselves to Trump both on state and local levels and on the national level. The criminal probe could be at its height or may even have ended with the pressing of serious charges when the 2022 elections are in full swing. That could put those few Republicans resisting the Big Lie in a good position in the near future and it could mean disaster for the GOP in the 2022 Midterms.

This also helps explain why Trump is hiding out at Mar-a-Lago where he probably feels safe from any possible attempts to arrest him that might come from New York and it also helps explain why he is exploring a residence in New Jersey, also hopefully out of the reach of New York State. Eventually, however, there would be nowhere to hide if serious enough charges are made. Extradition from one state to another and even from one country to another is always possible when the crimes are serious enough.

The Attorney General’s office, however, has not announced any specifics regarding reasons for her changing the probe from a civil to a criminal one.

In the past, the Republican ex-president has decried the investigations as part of a Democratic “witch hunt.”

James’ civil investigation and Vance’s criminal probe had overlapped in some areas, including examining whether Trump or his businesses manipulated the value of assets — inflating them in some cases and minimizing them in others — to gain favorable loan terms and tax benefits.

NY Attorney General Letitia James says she is now conducting a criminal probe of Trump and his organization | Mary Altaffer/AP

Vance’s investigation also included a look at hush-money payments paid to women on Trump’s behalf and the propriety of tax write-offs the Trump Organization claimed on millions of dollars in consulting fees it paid, including money that went to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka.

As part of her civil investigation, James’s office issued subpoenas to local governments in November 2019 for records pertaining to Trump’s estate north of Manhattan, Seven Springs, and a tax benefit Trump received for placing land there into a conservation trust.

James was also looking at similar issues relating to a Trump office building in New York City, a hotel in Chicago, and a golf course near Los Angeles. Her office also won a series of court rulings forcing Trump’s company and a law firm it hired to turn over troves of records.

Vance’s investigation has also appeared to focus in recent weeks on the Trump Organization’s longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg.

His former daughter-in-law, Jen Weisselberg, has given investigators reams of documents as they look into how some Trump employees were compensated with apartments or school tuition.

AP contributed to this article.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.