New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday dismissed President Donald Trump’s claim that the state’s attorney general is illegally investigating the National Rifle Association, saying the probe is justified.
“The investigation by the attorney general is what it is. The attorney general is independently elected, and she is elected in this state to enforce the law,” Cuomo told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.” “The NRA is originally chartered in this state. It’s a not-for-profit organization. So she has jurisdiction, and she believes there may have been illegal activity – and she is pursuing that case.”
On Saturday, New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office announced in a statement it had launched an investigation into the NRA and had issued subpoenas to the organization, but did not confirm what the probe was in regard to, and the office has not responded to repeated CNN inquiries asking for additional information.
On Monday, hours before the NRA convened a meeting of its board members, Trump wrote in a tweet that the group was “under siege” by Cuomo and James, whom he accused of “illegally using the State’s legal apparatus to take down and destroy this very important organization.”
Cuomo, a Democrat, called Trump’s claim “garbage” and said using the state’s justice system for political purposes is “not how we operate in the state of New York.”
“The attorney general enforces the law. If you break the law, you answer to the attorney general and other criminal law enforcement people in New York,” he said Tuesday. “We don’t use the criminal justice apparatus to play politics.”
The back and forth between the President and Cuomo comes as the NRA is dealing with a bitter leadership battle centered on the finances and management of the group.
Last week, amid allegations of financial misconduct by Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s chief executive officer, LaPierre sent the group’s board a letter saying he was being pressured to resign by Oliver North, the NRA’s president, according to the Wall Street Journal. Days later, North announced he will not be renominated as president of the group.
CNN’s Fredreka Schouten, Veronica Stracqualursi and Sonia Moghe contributed to this report.