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Federal judge tosses Trump's lawsuit seeking to halt New York attorney general's investigation

Court rules Trump must testify in fraud probe
Trump family must testify in New York fraud investigation, appeals court rules 03:47

Former President Donald Trump's lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James seeking to halt her office's long-running investigation into him and his company was dismissed Friday by a federal judge in northern New York.

The lawsuit, filed in December on behalf of Trump and his eponymous company, claimed James' wide-ranging financial fraud probe was politically motivated and in violation of Trump's rights. Friday's decision is the latest in a string of rulings in multiple courts in which judges rejected that argument.

Three state and federal courts have now said that James' office began its investigation appropriately, after March 2019 congressional testimony by former Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen raised questions about potentially "fraudulent financial statements."

Alina Habba, an attorney who filed the lawsuit on Trump's behalf, said in a text message Friday that "there is no question that we will be appealing this decision." 

"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," Habba said, referring to a legal concept allowing for a federal court to step in if a state proceeding is being conducted in bad faith.

James lauded the decision, saying in a statement that, "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."

Federal Judge Brenda Sannes wrote in Friday's decision that Trump's "allegations of retaliation are insufficient to invoke the bad faith exception."

Attorneys for James' office have indicated during multiple hearings in the last month that the investigation is nearing its conclusion, and that it may lead to an "enforcement action in the near future." They have not elaborated on what enforcement might be.

"There's clearly been a substantial amount of evidence amassed that could support the filing of an enforcement proceeding, although the final determination on filing that proceeding has yet to be made," an attorney for James' office said during a May 13 hearing related to Trump's lawsuit.

Sannes' ruling comes the day after a New York appellate court ruled against Trump and two of his children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, in an effort to block court-ordered depositions in James' case.

That court was the second to rule that the Trumps' fear that their depositions might end up being used in a parallel criminal investigation did not shield them from subpoenas.

"The existence of a criminal investigation does not preclude civil discovery of related facts, at which a party may exercise the privilege against self-incrimination," the appellate panel wrote.

The Trumps are also appealing that decision.

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