Either President Trump believes Governor Cuomo controls State Attorney General Letitia James the way he controls U.S. Attorney General William Barr, or he’s under the impression that Ms. James would need prodding from someone else to go after his troubled New York business enterprises.
Whichever’s the case, three days before he commandeered the Fourth of July in Washington to turn it into the kind of display of military might favored by the dictators who seem to be his role models, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to set off some online fireworks accusing the Governor of having wielded Ms. James as a “bludgeoning tool” against his local empire for what he claimed were political reasons.
“They sue on everything, always in search of a crime,” he bleated. “Now Cuomo’s A.G. is harassing all of my New York businesses in search of anything at all they can find to make me look as bad as possible. So, on top of ridiculously high taxes, my children and companies are spending a fortune on lawyers.”
He would eventually go off on a tangent about how his former Trump Foundation was unjustly maligned, while questioning why the Governor and other New York authorities had “never even looked at” the Clinton Foundation.
The Governor responded in a conference call with reporters later that day that Mr. Trump’s accusation that he was conspiring with Ms. James “shows that his paranoia is once again getting the better of him. The people of the state choose the Attorney General. So his suggestion that it’s my Attorney General is just incorrect. I don’t have an Attorney General.”
The Governor then added, “If he has nothing to hide, he has nothing to worry about.”
Ms. James, in a response to the President on Twitter, wrote, “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.”
Which may explain why Mr. Trump was in such a tizzy. His record in dealing with the last three New York Attorneys General makes clear that when they smell smoke, it’s a good bet that his hair isn’t the only thing on fire.
Start with the case that then-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman brought charging that Trump University had defrauded its students, a lawsuit that the President-elect settled for $25 million a month before he took office.
After Mr. Schneiderman resigned 14 months ago after published allegations that he had abused several women with whom he was involved, his acting replacement, Barbara Underwood, carried on the case he had brought against the Trump Foundation for misappropriation of funds collected by the charitable arm of his business empire. Last December, a settlement was reached under which the foundation was shut down and required to divide the funds remaining in its coffers among various non-profit groups after Ms. Underwood had accused him and his children of improperly benefitting personally and politically from its dealings.
Ms. James in March—after vowing to pursue civil cases against the President as a key element of her campaign for the job that ended with her victory last November—accused him of involving the foundation in his 2016 presidential campaign and filed for $2.8 million in restitution. She also wants Mr. Trump, his two oldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, and oldest daughter, Ivanka, banned for a decade from operating any charity in New York State.
The obvious question is whether there was any recent development in that case that set off Mr. Trump. But as Roseanne Rosannadanna might have said, when it comes to Trump Enterprises, “It’s always something.”
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