Donald Trump, Don Jr. and Ivanka must testify in New York Attorney General’s probe, court rules

Donald Trump and his two eldest children must testify under oath in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil investigation into their family real estate empire, a judge ruled on Thursday.

The former president, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. had all been fighting subpoenas from James’ office seeking depositions amid accusations the Trump Organization engaged in fraudulent financial tactics.

But judges on the appellate division of New York state’s trial court upheld a February 17 ruling by state Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron. 

Engoron had overruled Trump’s concerns that being deposed would violate his constitutional rights. 

New York prosecutors believe the Trump Organization had knowingly misrepresented financial information in order to obtain favorable loans and other deals for over a decade. 

‘Once again, the courts have ruled that Donald Trump must comply with our lawful investigation into his financial dealings,’ James said in a statement.

‘We will continue to follow the facts of this case and ensure that no one can evade the law.’ 

James earlier this year claimed to have uncovered significant evidence of Trump’s company inflating the value of their properties to appear better to banks and then lowering them to reduce tax bills 

She tweeted on Thursday: ‘Our investigation will continue undeterred because no one is above the law.’ 

She subpoenaed Donald Trump and his two eldest children late last year

New York Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating the Trump Organization since 2019. She subpoenaed Donald Trump and his two eldest children late last year has reached out to Trump attorney Alan Futerfas for comment. 

Trump and his two adult children were subpoenaed by James’ office late last year. 

They challenged the order in court, claiming that any information her team gains could be unfairly used in a separate but parallel criminal probe being run by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

But on Thursday, the court filing claimed ‘the existence of a criminal investigation does not preclude civil discovery of related facts, at which a party may exercise the privilege against self-incrimination.’

James would be able to bring a civil lawsuit against Trump using the deposition if evidence of wrongdoing was found. She could not file criminal charges due to the nature of her probe.

The criminal investigation, which had begun under former District Attorney Cyrus Vance, lost steam in recent months after it was taken over by new DA Alvin Bragg.

Bragg said in a statement last month that the investigation is still ongoing, but gave few if any details on its progress. A grand jury impaneled for the probe expired at the end of April without any public attempts to extend it.

Trump has on multiple occasions dismissed both investigations as ‘witch hunts,’ and disparaged James herself as ‘racist’ in recent statements about her inquiry. 

Engoron said in February that the Trump trio’s argument that testifying in James’ probe would violate his right against self-incrimination in the criminal probe completely misses the mark.’ 

Their claim ‘overlooks the salient fact that they have an absolute right to refuse to answer questions that they claim may incriminate them.’

While the former president stepped back from running the company before coming to the White House, his son Donald Trump Jr. is still an executive vice president there.

Ivanka Trump left the company in 2017 to be an adviser in her father’s presidential administration alongside husband Jared Kushner. 

His second-oldest son is also a Trump Organization executive – Eric Trump had already been forced to sit down under oath with James’ investigators. 

Ivanka Trump was a former Trump Organization executive before she left to serve in her father's presidential administration

Donald Trump Jr., the oldest, is still an executive vice president there

Ivanka Trump was a former Trump Organization executive before she left to serve in her father’s presidential administration. Donald Trump Jr., the oldest, is still an executive vice president there

James began her investigation in 2019, after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified to the Trump Organization’s allegedly illicit business practices before Congress.

Last week, Trump was forced to fork over $110,000 to James’ office as part of a deal to expunge a contempt charge over another subpoena to hand over financial documents in the inquiry. 

Trump and his attorney had maintained that he did not have the records James was asking for and that he had handed over everything else, while she contended that his reasons were inadequate. 

Engoron wound up siding with James, charging Trump with contempt of court and charging him $10,000 for every day the documents were not produced. 

The former president has previously accused James, a Democrat, of investigating him out of political animus. But those accusations have so far not held up in court. 

The New York appellate court on Thursday said James had uncovered ‘significant volumes of evidence’ in her investigation.

The filing also stated that Trump and children ‘have not identified any similarly implicated corporation that was not investigated or any executives of such a corporation who were not deposed.’

‘Therefore, appellants have failed to demonstrate that they were treated differently from any similarly situated persons,’ it states.