Trump's lawyer interrupted a hearing about the Trump Organization's finances to ask New York's AG to investigate whether Hillary Clinton spied on Trump

Trump's lawyer interrupted a hearing about the Trump Organization's finances to ask New York's AG to investigate whether Hillary Clinton spied on Trump
New York Attorney General and governor candidate Letitia James and former President Donald Trump.David Dee Delgado/Getty Images; Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • Trump's lawyer asked the New York attorney general's office whether it would investigate Clinton.
  • It's a reference to a right-wing conspiracy theory claiming Clinton spied on Trump's White House.

Former President Donald Trump's attorney Alina Habba asked a lawyer from New York Attorney General Tish James' office whether 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 going to go after Hillary Clinton for what she's doing to my client?" Habba said, referring to the attorney general of New York and Kevin Wallace, an attorney representing her in the hearing. "That she spied at Trump Tower in your state? Are you going to 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 Clinton spied on Trump while he was in the White House has proliferated through right-wing media outlets in recent days.


Insider previously reported it stemmed from a misreading of court documents filed by the special counsel John Durham. The filing in question says a lawyer with connections to Clinton obtained nonpublic data from the White House via a technology executive who had legal access to the data.

The lawyer, Michael Sussmann, was charged last year with lying to the FBI, and while the details in the filing raised questions about the ethics of their conduct, it did not accuse the lawyer or the tech executive of spying or hacking. Sussmann filed a motion Thursday to dismiss the case against him, citing "extraordinary prosecutorial overreach" and a failure to "state an offense."

Thursday's court hearing was convened by Engoron to hear arguments on an 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 depositions.

Lawyers representing Trump and the Trump Organization have said 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 that claim, noting that the Trump Organization "acceded" to the scope of the inquiry.

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. I don't think any of this would suggest that there was an improper motive or improper purpose," he said.

"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."