Behind the Letitia James hit attack against Donald Trump

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New York Attorney General Tish James is still basking in the glory of her “sweeping” lawsuit against Donald Trump. “Sweeping,” in case you don’t know, is the very Timesian way to signify just about anything deemed impactful by the people at the Gray Lady. Read the case’s paperwork in all its often-excruciating detail and you, too, might be tempted to believe James did such a bang-up job that the Don­ald’s next stop is the presidential suite in Sing Sing. 

Yes, James spent three years putting together the case and she appears to have snooped out every alleged fabrication Trump has ever made in his long history as a real estate developer and serial exaggerator. So give her an “A” for effort for attempting to show that Trump committed bank fraud by bloviating about the value of his various properties in order to ­receive favorable loan terms. 

OK, I’m no fan of lying (or bank fraud), but before passing judgment on the former president’s guilt, it would be wise to speak to some people in the real estate business about what goes on in their neck of the woods. 

Far from being surprised about the vast scope of Trump’s alleged deception, they were all amused that the story received such breathless attention from allegedly smart people in the chattering class. 

The lawsuit breaks down every instance of fraud in the state.
Letitia James has built up her case against Trump and his family for years.
AP

The reasons: Everyone in the business, and most of all Trump’s bankers, know he’s a blowhard. (After all, this is a guy who aggrandized ­his net worth and prowess in the sack.) Those bankers also do their own homework and ignore what’s on loan applications — particularly those from someone with Trump’s rep. 

Moreover, Trump is hardly alone in a business filled with BS artists, which is why they say the case should be laughed out of court. 

It won’t be, of course. James may be the most partisan Democratic prosecutor in the country, but New York state courts are packed with like-minded judicial types who also think Trump needs to rot in jail. Even worse objective evidence abounds of James pushing the boundaries in using her office to advance her political goals. 

Conflict of interest 

Recall: She successfully ran for AG four years ago on a platform that included finding something, anything, to bring Trump down when he was the Republican president. No better way to win over the state’s Dem base than by bashing someone as loathed as The Donald, even if it’s now a whopper conflict of interest for her to bring a case. 

Also recall: When she was toying with running for governor in 2021, she issued a curiously timed report on Andrew Cuomo’s sexual-harassment allegations that forced her fellow Dem from office. Say what you want about Cuomo, but having James turn that screw will forever taint the rationale behind his resignation. 

Crime, of course, is an issue that state AGs should care about, particularly crimes where people are killed on the streets of New York state’s crime-ridden cities or those crimes that cost taxpayers money. 

The lawsuit chronicles many of the very public instances of Trump's fraud.
James’ lawsuit did not have any shocking information within it to many sources close to Trump.
AP

The Trump case is neither, all of which makes James a hack in the worst tradition of the office. That’s saying something, since past office holders include the maniacal and power-hungry Eliot Spitzer, who used the publicity of some spurious AG prosecutions of business leaders to become governor. That was before he was forced to resign after being caught with his pants down and his socks up with prostitutes. 

For the sake of argument, let’s say that James accurately cites every alleged fib and fabrication Trump put in those loan documents. (I couldn’t help but chuckle at some of his documented boasts, including embellishing, by a mere 20,000 square feet, the size of his triplex apartment in Trump Tower.) 

Does that make Trump a criminal? 

The answer from experts: Probably not, and it’s probably not even close. Again, real estate pros tell me such boasts are de rigueur in the business and most likely would never be prosecuted ­unless your name is Trump and the prosecutor is Tish James. 

John Myers, the retired head of GE Asset Management who completed scores of such transactions working under the legendary CEO Jack Welch, put it this way: “These high valuations may not be true but the banks and other sophisticated financial institutions do their own due diligence on valuations and basically could care less what Trump’s valuation

was. Plus, the loans were all repaid, so who was the victim?” 

‘Subjective’ valuations 

Myers also points out that real estate “valuations themselves are subjective in nature” so there’s room for Trump to indulge his inner blowhard on loan applications. 

This lawsuit is an election stunt to motivate base voters. My bet: James also knows her “sweeping” case will likely flame out but only after she’s re-elected as AG in November and preparing for ­another run for governor.

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