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Trump Reignited Feud with NY AG Letitia James. Her Response Was Perfect.


President Donald Trump just had a Twitter fit detailing how much he does not love New York right now.

Trump, who has long touted himself as the ultimate New Yorker, raged against the governor, attorneys general past and present, and the state’s taxes. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, disgraced ex-AG Eric Schneiderman, and Hillary Clinton were all called out by name; conspicuously absent, however, was the name of Letitia James, New York’s current attorney general. That’s awkward. Trump only referred to James as “his Attorney General” (referencing Gov. Cuomo).

For her part, James took Trump’s rant in stride, making the point that her allegiance is to the law.

“As the elected AG of NY, I have a sworn duty to protect & uphold state law. My office will follow the facts of any case, wherever they lead. Make no mistake: No one is above the law, not even the President,” James responded. “P.S. My name is Letitia James. (You can call me Tish.)”

Some have speculated that Trump’s outburst was precipitated by imminent bad news regarding New York’s lawsuit against the Trump Foundation that had been started by Schneiderman, New York’s former Attorney General who resigned in May 2018 after he was accused of abusing multiple women.

In response to Trump’s tweets, Cuomo said to reporters that Trump “doesn’t really understand how government works.”

“In his administration, he appoints the attorney general. So his expression of ‘it’s a tool,’ maybe his attorney general is his tool. In New York, the attorney general is separately elected,” Cuomo told reporters on a conference call. “The tweet shows that his paranoia is once again getting the better of him.”

This isn’t the first time Trump and Letitia James have feuded on Twitter. Earlier in 2019, Trump accused Cuomo and James’s office of laying “siege” to and “illegally using the State’s legal apparatus to take down and destroy” the National Rifle Association (NRA). At that time, James’s office responded this way:

Attorney General Letitia James is focused on enforcing the rule of law. In any case we pursue, we will follow the facts wherever they may lead. We wish the President would share our respect for the law.

This straightforward response was a pretty stark change from something James said before she was officially sworn in as NY AG.

She vowed to “use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well.”

“We want to investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law,” she added . “Donald Trump’s days of defrauding Americans are coming to an end.”

Satisfying as it may have been for the anti-Trump community to hear that James was on a mission to take the president down, James’s statements may not have been the best idea. Shortly after she made those remarks, some predicted that the remarks might come back to haunt her by opening her up to claims of prosecutorial bias. Trump’s lawyers noticed too, and referenced James’s “anti-Trump campaign” in a court filing.

Now, however, it seems that James has upped her game. Not only are Monday’s tweets strategically not anti-Trump (they are anti-lawbreaking), they are also bound to irk POTUS a bit. Trump, who always takes pleasure in devising nicknames for political opponents, is officially late to the battle. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what he does with “Tish.”

[Image via Andel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos