Letitia James is greeted by supporters after winning election as the attorney general of New York. Photo: David Handschuh/NYLJ

New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, is pushing back against allegations by attorneys for President Donald Trump that “antipathy and animus” toward the Republican president is the motivation behind the AG’s lawsuit regarding Trump’s charitable organization.

James’ predecessor Barbara Underwood, who has returned to her previous role as New York’s solicitor general, filed the suit in June, just weeks after former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, also a Democrat, resigned in disgrace amid allegations that he physically abused romantic partners.

Alan Futerfas, who represents the Trump Foundation in the suit, has previously said the suit is motivated by political bias; on Feb. 8, he reiterated those claims and took them further to include James, a former New York City public advocate who Futerfas said ran an “anti-Trump campaign” last year for AG.

Citing a December article published in The New York Times under the headline “N.Y.’s New Attorney General Is Targeting Trump. Will Judges See a ‘Political Vendetta?’” Trump’s attorneys note that James has called Trump an “illegitimate president” and that she was driven to run for AG “about that man in the White House who can’t go a day without threatening our fundamental rights.”

Marc Mukasey, whom Trump reportedly considered for nomination as a U.S. Attorney in New York, also signed on to the answer. According to someone with knowledge of Mukasey’s professional plans, he left Greenberg Traurig last month and is in the process of forming a new firm that will focus on trial work.

On Monday, James fired back at the attorneys and said that the judge in the case will make decisions based on the facts and the law, “not my personal opinion.”  

“As the attorney general, I follow the facts and evidence wherever it leads, and I don’t believe I lose my First Amendment rights as an attorney general,” James told reporters. “So we need to make sure we investigate all cases, whether it involves the Trump Foundation or any other case in the Office of the Attorney General, and whatever that case unfolds, we will follow the law and bring it to justice on behalf of New York.”

In the lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, the AG’s office alleges that Trump used his charitable organization to fund his 2016 presidential campaign, as well as pay down some of his legal obligations, promote his brand, and take care of some personal expenses.

It is not clear if the Trump legal team’s allegations of political bias against James or her two predecessors will get anywhere with Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla, who presides over the Trump Foundation case.

In November, the judge denied a motion to dismiss the suit, finding that claims of political bias were not enough to prevent the case from moving forward. Trump’s attorneys are appealing Scarpulla’s ruling to the Appellate Division, First Department.  

Trump and his attorneys reached an agreement in December for dissolution of the Trump Foundation, but that deal does not affect the course of the lawsuit, in which the AG’s office seeks $2.8 million in restitution and a prohibition on Trump and his children from serving on any nonprofit boards for a period of years.

Dan M. Clark contributed to this article.

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