New revelations from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance demonstrate why it is more important than ever for New York State Attorney General Letitia James to begin proceedings to dissolve the Trump Organization.


In 2019, the New York County District Attorney’s Office—acting on behalf of a grand jury—served a subpoena duces tecum on Mazars USA, LLP, the personal accounting firm of President Donald J. Trump, for financial records relating to the President and his businesses. Trump, acting in his personal capacity, sued both the district attorney and Mazars in federal court in New York, seeking to block investigations into his and his company’s financial records. He argued that a sitting President enjoys absolute immunity from state criminal process. The case went to the Supreme Court, which rejected his arguments in Trump v. Vance, and sent the case back to the lower courts.

Now back in district court, Trump amended his complaint. The new complaint asks the court to block the state subpoenas on the grounds of “overbreadth” and “bad faith.” Vance has moved to dismiss the amended complaint.

What Vance’s Filing Reveals

Vance’s motion reveals, for the first time explicitly on the public record, that the Manhattan grand jury investigation extends well beyond the illegal “hush money” payments that Michael Cohen made on Trump’s behalf in 2016. The DA’s filing explains that the investigation is addressing “allegations of possible criminal activity at Plaintiff’s New York County-based Trump Organization dating back over a decade,” and that the DA’s office “needs the documents to assess whether a pattern of financial misconduct, for example, might violate state criminal law.” The DA noted “public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,” including “transactions involving individual and corporate actors.” While the breadth of this investigation has long been assumed, this appears to be the first time that the Manhattan DA has explicitly confirmed that he is investigating the Trump Organization—and “individual . . . actors,” presumably including Trump himself—for  wide-ranging criminal activity.

The Attorney General’s Role

Besides criminal investigation and prosecution, the New York State Attorney General has a powerful tool for holding wayward corporations accountable: the power to revoke a corporation’s charter. Under New York state law, the attorney general may bring an action for “judicial dissolution” when a corporation “has exceeded the authority conferred upon it by law, or has violated any provision of law whereby it has forfeited its charter, or carried on, conducted or transacted its business in a persistently fraudulent or illegal manner, or by the abuse of its powers contrary to the public policy of the state has become liable to be dissolved.”

As we have advised the attorney general, the Trump Organization has a long history of illegal, fraudulent, or abusive activity demonstrating that it has exceeded the authority conferred upon it by law and carried on its business in a persistently fraudulent or illegal manner. Furthermore, by continuing to operate under Trump family ownership and control with President Trump in the White House, the Trump Organization flagrantly abuses its state-granted powers, contrary to the public policies of New York against corruption and conflicts of interest, and contrary to the U.S. Constitution.

The new revelations from the Manhattan DA make clear now, more than ever, that it is time for the state to dissolve the Trump Organization and revoke its corporate charter.

Photo by Gautam Krishnan on Unsplash