James, NY Democratic attorney general nominee, to aim investigations at Trump

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – For President Donald Trump, the New York attorney general‘s office has been a nemesis for years, one whose sting has grown more potent during his rocky tenure in office.

Letitia James, who emerged Thursday as the Democratic nominee for New York’s top prosecutor, is expected to create more headaches for Trump by accelerating and adding to a raft of state-led investigations into his government and business empire.

Democrats are aiming to regain control of Congress in the fall to act as a check on Trump. Should that fail to happen, though, state attorneys general will remain high among his primary antagonists as he faces legal troubles on multiple fronts.

The New York office has prime importance: Trump is a native New Yorker, and his company, the Trump Organization, and its various offshoots are based in Manhattan, under the attorney general‘s jurisdiction.   

“We now have the first black attorney general in New York state history. She is a self-proclaimed progressive and very ambitious and will do what she has to do to make Trump‘s life miserable,” said Hank Sheinkopf, longtime New York Democratic strategist.

James, a Brooklyn native who currently serves as New York City‘s public advocate, still has to defeat Republican nominee Keith Wofford, a bankruptcy lawyer, in November, but New York has not elected a Republican to the job since 1994. She would become the state’s first black woman to hold the post.

“Tonight, we rewrite the history of generations of New Yorkers who have been treated differently simply because of their gender, the color of their skin, the language they speak, the God they pray to, the people they love, or the zip code they come from,” she said on Twitter after winning the nomination.

The New York attorney general‘s office has become a state counterpart to federal prosecutors examining Trump‘s presidential campaign and his organization.

Trump‘s legal woes are headed by the investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice to look into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government ahead of the 2016 election. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have denied any coordination.

The previous attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, in 2013 sued the businessman over Trump University for allegedly scamming consumers. Trump settled the suit for $25 million, along with two other unrelated suits, just after he won the 2016 election.

Schneiderman resigned this year after several women accused him of sexual abuse. His appointed replacement, Barbara Underwood, sued Trump and his adult children, charging them with breaking federal and state laws. Trump said the charges are baseless smears brought by Democrats.

James has promised to continue that lawsuit. She also wants to end the state‘s double jeopardy law, allowing the state to prosecute people pardoned for federal crimes by Trump. She also said she will oppose what she sees as attacks by Trump on the environment, gun-control efforts and on the rights of women and immigrants.

“Bashing Trump is the New York hobby, because you can’t lose,” said Sheinkopf. “They hate him here.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Christopher Cushing)