The Brooklyn native and daughter of sharecroppers, New York Attorney General Letitia James is the first Black and first woman to hold that position. AG James is determined to hold President Trump accountable for his actions regardless of his riches or popularity status. (Courtesy of Twitter/@NewYorkStateAG)
By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter
Perhaps, Trump continues to engage in the dangerous delusion that he won his bid for re-election because he doesn’t want to face the reality that awaits him when he leaves office.
On Jan. 20, at noon when Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America, all presidential legal protections will be stripped from Trump making him vulnerable to a plethora of possible state civil and criminal actions being investigated by the Attorney General of New York Letitia James.
“It’s based on allegations, primarily from individuals within the Trump administration who have come forward and laid bare a pattern of illegality and misconduct, which requires an investigation on the part of regulators, i.e., the New York State Office of Attorney General,” James told NBC News recently.
Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen infamously laid out an assortment of criminal allegations against his former boss during a volatile hearing before Congress on Feb. 27, 2019.
“He is a racist. He is a con man. And he is a cheat. I am not protecting Mr. Trump anymore,” said Cohen before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, then chaired by the late Hon. Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore. Beyond Cohen’s most incendiary accusations against Trump were specific details, supported by documents and other evidence of criminal conduct seized upon by James and her office. Specifically, the Attorney General is investigating the Trump Organization for asset valuation malfeasance, which Cohen claimed during that testimony where the president’s business inflated the value of its assets for the purposes of tax breaks and loans. For years the office James leads also has been looking into Trump’s charitable foundation, a probe that forced the Trump Foundation to shut down in 2019.
James has also been working with the incoming Biden administration to craft legal actions in an effort to overturn several Trump administration initiatives. “We’re preparing a list. And the list is long,” she said recently. “We’ll have a team of individuals working on reversing all the bad regulations and law that have been put forth. We will work with the Biden administration to ask them to file stays in a number of cases that are pending in the courts all across the country.”
Just the cases and actions connected to Trump and his family would create an expansive legal docket for James, 62, who is in her second year of leading the New York Attorney General’s Office, the first Black and first woman to be elected to that position.
In 2018, the Brooklyn native, who is the daughter of former sharecroppers Nellie and Robert James, ascended to that office after a hotly contested election some thought she was destined to lose. She was pitted against two other high profile Democrats, Zephyr Teachout, characterized as a favorite of New York’s Progressive political community and Sean Patrick Maloney. Ultimately, James easily won, defeating Teachout, who finished second by almost 10 points, 38.53%, to 29.65%. Maloney finished third at 24.02%.
James, who received her law degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C., began her legal career as a public defender for the Legal Aid Society of New York. She first rose to political office in 2003, when she was elected to represent the 35th Council District under the Working Families Party, the first member of that Party to win office in New York State.
Her first run for that 35th Council District seat ended in defeat in a close race in 2001. However, in the brutal bare knuckle arena of New York politics, James has never lost another race. She held the 35th Council District seat until 2013, when she was elected to the powerful office of New York City Public Advocate, the office she held prior to her election as New York’s Attorney General.
“No one, not even the president of the United States, can use the law to advance his or her own political agenda,” James told Vanity Fair in October. “It’s that simple. If individuals want to critique me, that’s fine. It’s about the rule of law and standing up for what’s right.”