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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

A new New York front opens in the long saga of Trump-related $$ inquiries

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Feb.

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Feb. 26 in Island Park. Credit: Howard Schnapp

At least some of our republic's founders saw how their own money pursuits might conflict with public service.

Patriot Thomas Paine boasted in 1782 that his own most distinctive feature was "personal disinterestedness and an anxiety to serve a public cause, in preference to myself."

Back then the term "disinterested" was widely used to signal the virtue of self-sacrifice, as historian Gordon Wood has explained.

"Even educated people nowadays use 'disinterested' as a synonym for uninterested, meaning indifferent or unconcerned," Wood wrote.

The folks now at the top of government appear to be quite "interested."

Last month, convicted ex-attorney Michael Cohen testified as to how his ex-client Donald Trump would inflate his assets on different occasions.

That unsurprising claim prompted an unsurprising official response.

Prompted by Cohen's testimony, New York State Attorney General Letitia James issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for records related to several Trump Organization projects, according to published reports.

As a Democrat, James allied with the majority of the House of Representatives, which also is interested in Deutsche Bank as one of the few institutions that were willing to lend Trump money when his ventures looked like a bad risk.

Since she runs a state office with broad powers, James operates outside the jurisdiction of Trump's Justice Department. The AG's office under her and her two immediate predecessors also went after the now-defunct Trump Foundation.

Investigators also reportedly asked for records relating to Trump's failed effort to buy the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League. The president since then happened to politically target the NFL over its policy regarding players' political protests.

New York's court system has fed much information on the pre-presidency interests of Trump and his kin. Cohen was prosecuted in the federal Southern District of New York.

The federal court in Manhattan also hosted legal battles over the Bayrock Group, which was involved in building the Trump SoHo property.

Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was tried and convicted on financial and campaign charges in Virginia.

But Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (from a nationally known Democratic family) was reportedly ready to file tax and other charges against Manafort that could put him back in trouble if Trump pardons him on the federal counts.

Perhaps there is a disinterested party or two to be found in the actions of Trump and those tangling in court.

But everybody seems interested in the outcomes.


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