- Donald Trump’s lawyer asked the New York Attorney General’s office if it would investigate Hillary Clinton.
- It’s a reference to a right-wing conspiracy theory claiming Clinton illegally spied on Trump’s White House.
- The comment came in the middle of a court hearing over whether Trump should sit for a deposition about Trump Organization finances.
Former President Donald Trump’s attorney Alina Habba asked a lawyer from New York attorney general Tish James’ office if they would “go after Hillary Clinton” in a hearing about whether the former president should be forced to sit for a deposition about his company’s finances.
“I want to know, Mr. Wallace, Ms. James, are you gonna go after Hillary Clinton for what she’s doing to my client?” Habba said, referring to New York Attorney General Letitia James and Kevin Wallace, an attorney representing her in the hearing. “That she spied at Trump Tower in your state? Are you gonna look into her business dealings?”
Judge Arthur Engoron stopped Habba’s discussion of Clinton, saying they were irrelevant.
“The Clintons are not before me,” he said.
The conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton spied on Trump in the White House has proliferated through right-wing media outlets in recent days.
As Insider previously reported, it stems from a misreading of court documents filed by the special counsel John Durham. The filing in question actually says that a lawyer with connections to Clinton obtained non-public data from the White House via a technology executive who had legal access to the data. The lawyer was charged last year with lying to the FBI, and while the details in the filing questions about the ethics of their conduct, it did not accuse the lawyer or the tech executive of spying or hacking.
The court hearing Thursday morning was convened by New York State Supreme Judge Arthur Engoron to hear arguments on a totally unrelated issue. James is investigating the Trump Organization’s finances and whether it broke bank, tax, and insurance laws by misrepresenting the values of its assets. Her office issued subpoenas to Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. to sit for deposits.
Lawyers Trump and the Trump Organization have argued that James should be required to ask a grand jury to force the testimony, in which case they would be granted immunity in the case. James is running her civil investigation parallel to a criminal investigation in conjunction with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which has already empaneled a grand jury.
“The only reason she is doing this is because he is a former president, and on the other side of the fence,” Habba said of James, who ran for attorney general as a Democrat.
But Wallace contested Trump that claim, noting that the Trump Organization in fact “acceded” to the scope of the probe.
Wallace also disputed the notion that James targeted Trump because of personal animus.
“This was not someone who was unfamiliar to the office and who didn’t already have legal issues around fraud,” he said of the former president. “I don’t think any of this would suggest that there was an improper motive or improper purpose.”
“The legal issues are not unique,” he said, later adding: “The president is a citizen. He has to come in and appear just like anyone else.”