ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The National Rifle Association is “under siege,” President Donald Trump said Monday in response to New York state’s decision to investigate the organization’s status as a tax-exempt nonprofit.
The Republican president accused state Attorney General Letitia James and her fellow Democrat, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of breaking the law — though he did not specify which law — with the investigation into the gun-rights organization.
“The NRA is under siege by Cuomo and the New York State A.G., who are illegally using the State’s legal apparatus to take down and destroy this very important organization, & others,” Trump tweeted.
In a statement responding to Trump’s tweet, James’ office said she is focused “on enforcing the rule of law.”
“In any case we pursue, we will follow the facts wherever they may lead,” her office wrote. “We wish the President would share our respect for the law.”
James’ office offered few details about the probe when its existence was confirmed Saturday, saying only that an investigation into the NRA had been launched and that subpoenas had been issued.
But last year she had vowed to investigate whether the organization deserves its tax-exempt nonprofit status. And an NRA lawyer said Saturday that it would cooperate “with any inquiry into its finances.”
Cuomo, meanwhile, said Trump has “done nothing but tweet” about gun violence.
“Unlike you, NY is not afraid to stand up to the NRA,” he said in a tweet. “As for the NRA, we’ll remember them in our thoughts and prayers,” appearing to mock an oft-cited reaction to mass shootings.
Republican state Sen. Robert Ortt of North Tonawanda called the investigation politically motivated.
“The attorney general joins the governor and other radical New York City extremists in pushing our political climate to dangerous new depths,” Ortt said in a statement.
The state attorney general has oversight over nonprofit groups registered with the state and may seek to fine those who defraud donors, misuse charitable funds or violate the rules governing political activities by nonprofits. The NRA is based in Virginia but has an office in New York.
The organization did not immediately return messages seeking comment Monday.
James’ office has also opened a civil investigation into allegations by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen that Trump exaggerated his wealth to obtain loans.
Her office is also overseeing a lawsuit alleging Trump used his charitable foundation for campaign purposes. The Trump Foundation reached a deal in December to fold and distribute about $1.7 million in remaining funds. James is seeking millions of dollars in additional restitution, as well as an order banning Trump and his three oldest children from running any New York charities for 10 years.
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