In a statement, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office said, “We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature.”READ MORE: Every NYC Resident Now Eligible For In-Home COVID Vaccine, De Blasio Says
The state attorney general’s office is working with the Manhattan district attorney on the investigation.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office has been conducting a criminal investigation into former president Donald Trump and his company for two years.
Attorney General Letitia James’ office offered no explanation for what prompted the change in its approach to the investigation or why it chose to announce it publicly.
In the past, the Republican ex-president has decried the investigations as part of a Democratic “witch hunt.”
James’ disclosure of a widening investigation is not necessarily an indication that she is planning to bring criminal charges. In New York, if that were to happen, the state attorney general can do so through a county district attorney, like District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., or with a referral from Gov. Andrew Cuomo or a state agency.
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.READ MORE: NYC Mayoral Primary: Eric Adams Leads 1st Round, Maya Wiley And Kathryn Garcia Neck And Neck
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.
Vance’s office hasn’t publicly said what it is investigating, citing grand jury secrecy rules, but some details have come out during a legal battle to get access to Trump’s tax records, which it finally obtained in February.
As part of her civil investigation, James’ 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.
Weisselberg was subpoenaed in James’ civil investigation and testified twice in 2020. His lawyer didn’t immediately respond to an email Tuesday night.MORE NEWS: Socialist Community Activist India Walton Defeats Incumbent 4-Term Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown In Democratic Primary
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)