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Federal Judge Throws Out Donald Trump’s Lawsuit Against New York Attorney General


Donald Trump

A federal judge on Friday ruled against former President Donald Trump is his quest to shut down an ongoing investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) into the Trump Organization.

“In sum, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs could have raised the claims and requested the relief they seek in the federal action in the New York proceeding and that there is an identity of claims. Because all three requirements of res judicata are satisfied, even if Younger abstention were inappropriate, the Court would grant Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ complaint for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6),” U.S. District Judge Brenda K. Sannes wrote, tossing the case.

Before Judge Sannes dismissed plaintiff Trump’s case without prejudice, she recounted the litany of alleged constitutional violations as follows:

Plaintiffs assert that Defendant has: (1) violated their Fourteenth Amendment due process rights by commencing “investigations against Plaintiffs in bad faith and without a legally sufficient basis,” (2) violated their First Amendment rights by seeking to stifle Plaintiffs’ free speech and retaliate against Plaintiffs based upon Mr. Trump’s political views, (3) violated their Fourth Amendment rights by issuing subpoenas without any “justifiable legal or factual basis,” and (4) abused process to advance her own political career and injure Mr. Trump personally and politically. (Id. ¶¶ 102–55). Plaintiffs seek declaratory judgments that Defendant has violated their constitutional rights and that her investigations constitute an abuse of process, as well as “a preliminary and permanent injunction” “requiring Defendant to immediately cease or, at a minimum, appropriately limit all ongoing investigations of Plaintiffs pending resolution of this action” and “granting Plaintiffs relief from Defendant’s ongoing, unbounded investigations and enjoining her from being involved in any manner in any civil or criminal actions against Plaintiffs.” (Id. at 29–30).

The ruling came down the day after Trump and his children failed to avoid sitting for a deposition in a state matter as part of James’s civil investigation in the company’s allegedly fraudulent business practices.

The Barack Obama-appointed federal judge also took note of that May 26 state appellate court ruling in James’s favor:

On May 26, 2022, the Appellate Division, First Department affirmed Trump IV. (Dkt. No. 35-1). The First Department noted that the “sequence of events suggests that the investigation was lawfully initiated at its outset and well founded, apart from any parallel criminal investigation undertaken by the District Attorney.” (Id. at 4). In rejecting the Trump respondents’ selective prosecution claim, the court noted that “OAG began its investigation after public testimony of a senior corporate insider and reviewed significant volumes of evidence before issuing the subpoenas,” and that the respondents failed to identify any similarly situated persons that were not investigated. (Id.).

Trump has long alleged that the Democratic heads of the New York Attorney General’s Office and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office have been harassing him and his family business for politically motivated reasons.

But Attorney General James responded to the dismissal by calling Trump’s legal challenges “baseless.”

“Time and time again, the courts have made clear that Donald J. Trump’s baseless legal challenges cannot stop our lawful investigation into his and the Trump Organization’s financial dealings,” James said. “No one in this country can pick and choose how the law applies to them, and Donald Trump is no exception. As we have said all along, we will continue this investigation undeterred.”

Law&Crime reached out to Trump attorney Alina Habba for comment on the ruling and potential next steps.

“There is no question that we will be appealing this decision,” Habba said in response. “If Ms. James’s egregious conduct and harassing investigation does not meet the bad faith exception to the Younger abstention doctrine, then I cannot imagine a scenario that would.”

Read the decision and order below:

[Image via Brandon Bell/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.