Trump levels unsubstantiated claims of collusion against New York AG as civil fraud trial wraps up

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Former President Donald Trump holds up a copy of a story featuring New York Attorney General Letitia James while speaking during a news conference, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024, in New York. Trump's lawyers presented closing arguments in his civil business fraud trial earlier in the day. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

With his civil fraud trial drawing to a close, Donald Trump has leveled unsupported claims of collusion against the New York attorney general for visits she made to the White House, continuing a pattern of the former president describing the multiple cases against him as a form of political persecution.

New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump in 2022, alleging the former president habitually exaggerated his wealth on financial statements, deceiving banks and insurance companies. James has asked the judge to impose $370 million in penalties and to forbid Trump from doing business in New York.

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On the final day of the trial on Thursday, Trump shared a story from The Gateway Pundit, a right-wing website that often spreads misinformation, that claimed James visited the White House three times between April 2022 and August 2023.

The website acknowledged “details of her White House visits were not immediately clear.” But on Truth Social, Trump called the trial a “witch hunt” and said, “The purpose of the visit was to illegally coordinate the prosecution of your favorite President, me!”

There is no evidence Biden met with James during the visits, which White House logs show included many people — sometimes hundreds.

James attended an Aug. 31, 2023, reception for Black women elected to office from across the country at the residence of Vice President Kamala Harris, according to records released by the White House. Over 200 people attended.

On July 18, 2023, James was among attorneys general from seven states and the District of Columbia who met with Harris to discuss efforts to disrupt the illicit fentanyl supply chain.

And on April 8, 2022, James attended a celebration of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation as the first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court. Over 400 people attended the celebration, according to the visitors log.

The White House said Biden did not attend the reception for Black elected officials or the discussion on the fentanyl supply chain. During the April 2022 event, Biden only made remarks on the South Lawn and didn't greet attendees in the crowd, according to the White House.

Trump, the leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, and his lawyers have repeatedly alleged coordination between the Biden White House and the prosecutors who have brought criminal cases against him, but there is no evidence that this is true.

Attorney General Merrick Garland in 2022 appointed a special counsel from outside the Justice Department, Jack Smith, to lead separate federal investigations into Trump. Officials have maintained that he and his team -- and not senior leaders at the Justice Department or White House -- have been solely responsible for all prosecutorial decisions.

James is not an employee of the federal government or a Biden appointee. New York voters reelected her as state attorney general in 2022.

The former president’s unsubstantiated claims against James also align with a long-used strategy of relentlessly attacking political opponents, including the use of racist language against Black prosecutors. Trump has previously referred to James, who is Black, as “Racist A.G. Letitia ‘Peekaboo’ James.” The nickname is similar to a term used to insult Black people.

James has said she isn’t bothered by Trump’s personal attacks.

“This case has never been about politics or personal vendetta or about name-calling,” she said outside court. “This case is about the facts and the law. And Mr. Donald Trump violated the law.”

Trump also disparaged Judge Arthur Engoron, who presided over the civil fraud case this week, multiple times throughout the trial, accusing him of working closely with James.

Trump's campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.


Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Eric Tucker from Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.


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