Bill Barr calls New York’s Trump lawsuit a ‘political hit job’: Former AG calls $250 million case a result of ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’ – and dragging his children in his a ‘gross overreach’
- Trump’s former AG got attention for asking what former president was doing with classified information at his Florida golf club
- On Wednesday he appeared on Fox after New York AG announced she was suing Trump and three adult children
- James is seeking $250 million claiming ‘persistent fraudulent practices’ in scheme to overvalue 200 different assets in financial statements
- Barr said James ‘she grossly overreaches when she tries to drag the children into this’
- ‘I think she was targeting Trump’
- Barr said she filed a civil suit because she ‘doesn’t have the evidence to make a criminal case’
- The suit says Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump ‘knowingly participated’ in the scheme as executive vice presidents who were briefed on company operations
Former Attorney General Bill Barr took to the airwaves Wednesday to condemn New York AG Letitia James’ civil lawsuit against Donald Trump – chiding her for trying to ‘drag the children’ into the matter.
Barr – who recently condemned Trump for having kept government documents at his Florida club – blasted James’ suit as ‘gross overreach’ and suggested it may have been politically motivated.
‘This, to me, looks like gross overreach, which I think is going to end up backfiring on them, because I think it will make people sympathetic for Trump, that this is another example of people piling on because of Trump derangement syndrome, this strong desire to punish him,’ Barr told Fox News.
‘It’s hard for me not to conclude it’s a political hit job,’ said Barr.
Barr went on to accuse James of ‘targeting’ Trump, and pointed out as Trump himself has in the past that the AG campaigned on a pledge to investigate the then-president.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr accused New York AG Letitia James accuse of ‘targeting’ Trump, and said she overreaches by trying to ‘drag’ the Trump children into her lawsuit
‘And this is a woman who campaigned for office saying that – promising she was going to go after Trump, which I think is a tremendous abuse of office to go head-hunting and targeting individuals. So, I think she was targeting Trump.’
Barr also appeared to be unimpressed with the foundation of the suit itself. ‘This is, after three years, a civil lawsuit, the gist of which is that, when the Trump Organization borrowed money, Trump personally guaranteed those loans,’ he said.
Barr also suggested that James brought her civil suit – seeking $250 million and to have Trump and three adult children barred from serving on boards, and barred from real estate deals for five years – because she didn’t have the goods.
‘To me, that says that she doesn’t have the evidence to make a criminal case. So she’s setting a lower bar and bringing this civil case. I don’t think it’s going to go any further. Now, it’s over 200 pages long with a lot of details about the valuation of properties,’ he said of the 222-page lawsuit.
‘But the fact of the matter is that real estate valuation of a complex real estate company like this is inherently very subjective. It depends what kinds of assumptions are used. Values can swing, depending on whether it’s viewed as a property that’s going to be split up or one that’s kept together and so forth. So it’s not an exact science,’ he said.
James’ suit also names three Trump children: Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. Former AG Bill Barr accused her of ‘targeting’ Trump, and said the tip-off was that she was able to ‘drag’ the three adult Trump children into her suit
Barr defended the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago, saying ‘It’s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club’
Documents seized during the search of Trump’s estate on August 8 are pictured on August 30
Mar-a-Lago for $739 million and a triplex for $327 million: Properties James has accused Trump of inflating
- In her lawsuit, New York Attorney General Letitia James said Mar-a-Lago was valued at $739 million when it should have been around $75 million. She claims the valuation was based on the ‘the false premise that it was unrestricted property and could be developed for residential use even though Mr. Trump himself signed deeds donating his residential development rights and sharply restricting changes to the property.
- Trump valued his Trump Tower apartment at $327 million. James said Wednesday it would have made it the most expensive property in New York. She claimed the inflated valuation was based on exaggerated square footage despite Trump knowing it wasn’t that big
- In 2012, the lawsuit claims, rent-stabilized apartments in the Trump Park Avenue property worth $750,000 were valued as if they could be rented at market value. That meant they were valued at nearly $50 million.
- In 2017, Trump’s golf course in Turnberry, Scotland, was valued at nearly $127million. But James insists it has operated as a loss since then.
Barr also sought sympathy for Don Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump, who are all named in the suit.
Don Jr. and Eric helped run the company along with executive Allen Weisselberg when Trump was in the White House. Ivanka worked at the White House as a senior advisor.
Don Jr. is 44, Eric is 38, and Ivanka is 40.
‘Now, I’m not even sure she has a good case against Trump himself. But what ultimately persuades me that this is a political hit job is, she grossly overreaches when she tries to drag the children into … this,’ Barr said.
The lawsuit says the three children were ‘integral’ to the business,’ and says they were ‘intimately involved’ in the operation of the Trump Organization.
All were executive vice presidents and were ‘aware of the true financial performance of the company,’ it said, noting they were read in on a master office calendar.
The suit says the three children ‘participated in’ the ‘fraudulent scheme’ and that as executive VPs they were ‘integral to the business’
Barr’s comments came after he stunned some viewers early this month when he said the FBI raided Mar-a-lago in search of government materials being held there because the government was being ‘jerked around.’
Republicans have called the search ‘unprecedented,’ prompting Barr to shoot back: ‘It’s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club.’
Barr’s testimony deriding Trump’s election fraud claims have featured in the House Jan. 6 hearings. He says he told Trump the claims were ‘bull****.’
As AG, Trump critics howled when Barr issued a summary of the Mueller report in ways that they said downplayed Robert Mueller’s outlining 10 areas of potential obstruction of justice.
He also spoke publicly about the potential for fraud in mail-in voting.
Trump fired him in his last weeks in office, and the House committee is probing Justice Department moves in its investigation of Trump’s election overturn effort.
Barr wrote a memoir, One Damn Thing After Another, where he said Trump ‘lost his grip’ after the election and ‘was off the rails.’
James on Wednesday accused Trump and his children of engaging in ‘numerous acts of fraud’ after a three-year probe, and filed a suit seeking to rip away his ability to do business in the state for years.
James announced the suit against the former president at a dramatic Wednesday press conference, citing a document that accuses Trump and three of his adult children of pumping up property far beyond their actual valuations when seeking lending to expand his real estate empire.
‘Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to the “Art of the Deal. It’s the art of the steal,’ she said, referencing Trump’s famous book.
She spoke following a review of ‘millions of documents’ with a team of investigators, and told reporters she was suing Trump for ‘violating the law as part of his efforts to generate profits for himself, his family and his company.’
James said he did so ‘to cheat the system and to cheat all of us,’ and is seeking $250 million – while asking a judge to ‘permanently’ bar Trump and his adult children ‘from serving as an officer or director in any corporation or similar similar entity registered and or licensed in New York.’
She also wants to bar Trump and his adult children from obtaining lending in the state, or engaging in commercial real estate purchases for a period of five years – hitting at a business that is at the heart of their livelihood.
Trump would maintain his financial interest in the property even if a judge rules against him in the suit.
Among his alleged misdeeds, she accused Trump of ‘intentional and deliberate fraud’ by tripling the size of his Trump Tower penthouse apartment, thereby goosing its value.
She Trump claimed the apartment was 30,000 square feet. ‘In reality, the apartment had an area of less than 11,000 square feet.’ Based on the inflated square footage, the apartment was valued at $327 million.
An exhibit also details how the company valued Ivanka Trump’s penthouse apartment at Trump Park Avenue.
It says she had an option to buy Penthouse A for $8.5 million, but the company repeatedly valued it in financial statements as between $21 million and $25 million.
She had an option to buy Penthouse B for $14 million, but it was valued at $45 million in 2014.
‘After being repeatedly told by an accountant that it was inappropriate to use the higher value rather than the option price, the Trump Organization used the $14,264,000 value for Penthouse B in the 2015-2020 statements,’ according to the exhibit. ‘Despite this correction, this figure was still inaccurate for multiple statements however, because in 2016, an amendment to the lease lowered the purchase price option for Ivanka Trump even lower to $12,264,000.’