New York Attorney General-elect Letitia James steps into her new job next month, ready to launch several exhaustive investigations into the president, his family and anyone else who may be in that circle. New York is special to Trump and his alleged criminal behavior, as it’s home to the Trump Organization, his campaign and reelection headquarters, as well as the infamous June 2016 meeting with Russian officials. Since all that falls under James’ jurisdiction, she finds herself in a uniquely powerful position over the president.
In an interview with NBC, James said she plans to investigate Trump’s real estate holdings in regards to an October NYT investigation, the aforementioned meeting with Russian officials, government subsidies Trump received and potential violations of the emoluments clause. This is just the beginning. James told NBC, “we will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well.” She also plans to continue her predecessor’s investigation of the Trump Foundation, which is suspected of illegally cooperating with his campaign. As it stands, the Foundation is accused of self-dealing and violating legal obligations, despite Trump lawyers’ best efforts to sweep away allegations as politically motivated.
James refuses to let any of Trump’s allies off the hook. Since she began her campaign, she knew she’d have to adjust New York’s double jeopardy laws if she wanted to file state charges against anyone the president pardoned of federal crimes. At the moment, that would be impossible, but James already has a bill in the works that will allow her to bring those criminals to justice in spite of Trump’s protection. She told NBC the bill can be expected to pass within her first 100 days in office and that “it is a priority because I have concerns with respect to the possibility that this administration might pardon some individuals who might face some criminal charges, but I do not want them to be immune from state charges.”
Although James’ jurisdiction falls only to activity from before his election, Trump is more vulnerable in New York than he ever was before. As Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz tells NBC, the president is unable to exercise his pardons, threaten to fire investigators or otherwise interfere in any meaningful way. Dershowitz isn’t sure if a sitting president can be charged with a state crime—but Letitia James is going to find out.