OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
A CNN legal expert stunned the panel when he spoke on the network about New York Attorney General Letitia James and her prosecution of the Trump Organization.
Eli Honig appeared this week during a segment with host Kate Bolduan when he was asked about the case, and he made no bones about it: He believes James’ prosecution of the former president is motivated by politics.
“Absolutely. I mean, Elie, Caroline, weigh in on this as well. I think I scribbled it down — I can’t read my own writing — scribbled it down as Paula was reporting it out, this entire case is a manufactured claim to serve a political agenda, first words out of Chris Kise’s mouth,” the host said before Honig gave his opinion.
“Well, two things can be true and are true at once. Yes, Donald Trump inflated the value of his assets by a lot. I think that’s been established by this case. There’s a separate question whether anyone was actually harmed because the banks made the loans, they knew what they were doing, they got paid back,” Honig said.
“But it is a fact that Letitia James, as Paula Reid said, Letitia James campaigned for attorney general in 2018 specifically on a promise to vote for me and I’ll get Donald Trump. That’s not something she said once. She said it dozens of times. She said it in writing. She fundraised off it. And she wasn’t even specific. She didn’t say, I’ll get him for inflating his assets. At one point, she said he could be indicted for money laundering at one point. She said — the day after she was elected, she said, and I quote, we’re definitely going to sue his ass. He’ll know my name,” he said.
“And when you make statements like that, how can you say there’s no political angle to this? You can maybe say the facts are there, but it’s also political. That’s Letitia James’ own doing,” he said.
CNN legal expert Elie Honig says the quiet part out loud regarding NY AG Tish James’ prosecution of Trump.
IT. IS. POLITICAL. pic.twitter.com/iQKCBvYYdB
— USA Features Media (@UsaFeatures) January 14, 2024
Trump has repeatedly claimed that James’ prosecution of him was largely political.
This month he tore into James, a Democrat, and Judge Arthur Engoron, the latter of whom is overseeing his civil fraud trial in the Empire State.
“Remember, the corrupt and radical Judge Engoron is a political hack who wouldn’t give us a Jury, wouldn’t let this ‘case’ go to the Commercial Division, where it belongs (would have been TERMINATED), incredibly ignored the Appellate Court decision that struck down almost 90% of this fake lawsuit based on Statute of Limitations, etc., and, Illegally and Unconstitutionally Gagged me and my lawyers, in a brazen and blatant attempt to prevent us from bringing vital information to the Public and the Courts,” Trump posted to Truth Social.
The former president said that James and Engoron are “causing grave damage to our Justice System, to New York State, and to the United States of America!”
When the judge issues a ruling, which could come any day, Trump could face $370 million in fines and a prohibition on conducting business in the state of New York. The Manhattan Supreme Court trial has been on a brief recess since December 13. Justice Engoron has stated his intention to decide the non-jury case by the month’s end.
AG James is suing Trump and his sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., for alleged ill-gotten gains totaling $250 million. The Republican candidate for president in 2024 is facing allegations that he inflated the value of his assets on his annual financial statements by billions of dollars to secure more favorable insurance and loan terms.
Even though Engoron has already determined that Trump is guilty of fraud, the court has not yet decided on other claims in James’ lawsuit or a possible final punishment.