Former president Donald Trump padded his net worth by billions of dollars and habitually misled banks and others about the value of prized assets like golf courses, hotels and his Mar-a-Lago estate, New York’s attorney general said Wednesday in a lawsuit that seeks to permanently disrupt the Republican’s ability to do business in the state.

Attorney General Letitia James dubbed it: “The art of the steal.”

The lawsuit, filed in state court in Manhattan, is the culmination of the Democrat’s three-year civil investigation into Trump and the Trump Organization. Trump’s three eldest children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump, were also named as defendants, along with two longtime company executives.

In its 222 pages, the suit struck at the core of what made Trump famous, taking a blacklight to the image of wealth and opulence he’s embraced throughout his career — first as a real estate developer, then as a reality TV host on “The Apprentice” and later as president.

It details dozens of instances of alleged fraud, many involving claims made on annual financial statements that Trump would give to banks, business associates and financial magazines as proof of his riches as he sought loans and deals.

For example, according to the lawsuit, Trump claimed his Trump Tower apartment — a three-story penthouse replete with gold-plated fixtures — was nearly three times its actual size and valued the property at $327 million. No apartment in New York City has ever sold for close to that amount, James said.

Trump applied similar fuzzy math to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, the lawsuit alleged, by valuing the private club and residence as high as $739 million — more than 10 times a more reasonable estimate of its worth. Trump’s figure is based on the idea that the property could be developed for residential use, but deed terms prohibit that.

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“This investigation revealed that Donald Trump engaged in years of illegal conduct to inflate his net worth, to deceive banks and the people of the great state of New York,” James said at a news conference.

“Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It’s the art of the steal,” she said, referring to the title of Trump’s 1987 memoir, “The Art of the Deal.”

James said the investigation also uncovered evidence of potential criminal violations, including insurance fraud and bank fraud, but that her office was referring those findings to outside authorities for further investigation.

Trump, in a post to his Truth Social platform, decried the lawsuit as “Another Witch Hunt” and denounced James as “a fraud who campaigned on a ‘get Trump’ platform.”

Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, said the allegations are “meritless” and that the lawsuit “is neither focused on the facts nor the law — rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda.”

In the lawsuit, James asked the court to ban Trump and his three eldest children from ever again running a company based in the state.

She is also seeking payment of …read more

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