A New York judge said Thursday that Donald Trump and two of his children must testify in a business fraud investigation, rejecting their request to quash subpoenas issued by the state’s attorney general.
New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron issued his ruling the same day that he held a contentious two-hour hearing over the matter. The Trumps were seeking to quash the subpoenas from Attorney General Letitia James, while she was asking the court to order them to comply. Both the New York attorney general’s office and the Manhattan district attorney are investigating whether Trump inflated the value of his holdings in order to secure loans and deflated values in order to reduce taxes. In allowing the subpoenas from Attorney General James, Engoron essentially rejected arguments by Trump attorneys that James is politically biased against Trump, and is using a civil law investigation to advance a criminal case against him.
This is a “lawful investigation” and her office has “legitimate reason to seek testimony” from Trump and his children, who are also involved in his business affairs, James said. “The evidence continues to mount showing that Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization used fraudulent and misleading financial statements to obtain economic benefit,” James said before the subpoena hearing.
Judge rules that Donald Trump, Don. Jr., and Ivanka must testify within 21 days as part of NY Attorney General Letitia James’ civil investigation into the family's financial fraud. pic.twitter.com/uZRx89PeNS
— The Recount (@therecount) February 17, 2022
A refusal to subpoena Trump “would have been a blatant dereliction of duty (and would have broken an oft-repeated campaign promise),” the judge wrote. Trump must turn over documents within 14 days, and he, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump, Jr. must appear for depositions within 21 days, per the judge’s ruling. Eric Trump has already sat for his deposition, during which he repeatedly–almost to a comical point–invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege, something Engoron mentioned during his remarks. “Can’t they refuse to answer? Isn’t that what Eric Trump did 500 times?” the judge said.
#BREAKING: Today, a court ruled in our favor that Donald Trump must appear before my office as part of our investigation into his financial dealings.
No one will be permitted to stand in the way of the pursuit of justice, no matter how powerful they are.
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) February 17, 2022
“In the final analysis, a State Attorney General commences investigating a business entity, uncovers copious evidence of possible financial fraud, and wants to question, under oath, several of the entities’ principles, including its namesake,” Engoron wrote. “She has the clear right to do so.”
And that is why I am hopeful today. Because there is a new spirit moving in New York State government.
My name is Letitia James.
I am the Attorney General of the Great State of New York.
The People’s Lawyer.
— Tish James (@TishJames) February 17, 2022
Trump will most likely appeal the ruling, but James will continue with her investigation.
New York AG Letitia James is the G.O.A.T. pic.twitter.com/8oTtE3xVVp
— The Chanteezy For Real ♉️ (@iamchanteezy) February 17, 2022
[This is a breaking and developing story, please check back for updates]