An appeals court Thursday unanimously rejected an attempt by former President Donald Trump and two of his adult children to avoid having to answer questions under oath by investigators for the New York Attorney General, Letitia James, as part of its civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s business practices.
The decision was Trump’s latest legal loss in his efforts to curb James’ investigation, which is focused on allegations that the Trump Organization illegally manipulated the stated valuations of various real estate assets for financial gain.
In addition to Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr and daughter Ivanka Trump must comply with James’ subpoenas to obtain their testimony, according to a four-page order issued by a panel of four judges in the 1st Judicial Circuit Appeals Chamber. Manhattan Supreme Court.
The ruling rejected arguments made by Trump’s lawyers at a hearing earlier this month that James should be barred from interviewing him and his children because she is also working with the Manhattan attorney general’s office on a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization.
Donald Trump Jr. He currently runs the Trump family business with his brother Eric Trump, who previously answered questions from James’ investigators under oath. Ivanka Trump, who served as a senior White House adviser during her father’s presidency, is a former senior executive of the Trump Organization.
Trump could ask the New York Court of Appeals to hear an appeal seeking to overturn Thursday’s ruling, but there is no automatic right for that court, the state’s highest body, to consider such an effort.
“Once again, the courts have ruled that Donald Trump must comply with our legal investigation into his financial dealings,” James said in a statement about the appeals court’s ruling.
“We will continue to follow up on the facts of this case and make sure that no one evades the law,” the attorney general said.
James’ office said last Friday that Trump had paid a $110,000 in contempt of court fine for failing to comply with a subpoena to obtain documents he wanted to see as part of his investigation. But Trump failed to comply with all steps ordered by a court judge to lift this contempt of court, risking returning the $10,000 daily fine originally set by the judge.
Alina Hobba, Trump’s attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Appeals Committee’s order on Thursday.
The resolution supports February. 28, 2022, ruling by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron who ordered the Trumps to submit to deposits.
“In the final analysis, the state attorney general begins investigation of a business entity, uncovers ample evidence of potential financial fraud, and wants to question, under oath, several directors of the entities, including those of the same name. And she has a clear right to do so. Engoron wrote at the time.
The Appeals Committee said in its decision Thursday: “The existence of a criminal investigation does not include the civil discovery of the relevant facts.”
The ruling indicated that the Trumps in the deposits could invoke their constitutional right against self-incrimination to refuse to answer questions.
The Appeals Committee also said Ingoron “properly denied” a request by Trump’s parties to hold a “evidential hearing on the scope and degree” of coordination between James’s office and Manhattan DA’s office.
“The civil investigation began in March 2019 following congressional testimony by Michael Cohen, a former Trump Organization executive and special counsel, in which Cohen alleged that
Participants The Trump Organization, Inc. They issued false financial statements.”
“This sequence of events suggests that the investigation began legally from its inception
and well-founded, notwithstanding any parallel criminal investigation by the Public Prosecutor.”
The panel said there was no justification for rescinding the subpoenas based on Republican Trump’s claim that the investigation by James, a Democrat, was motivated by political hostility.
The judgment said James “initiated his investigation after public testimony from a senior company insider and reviewed large amounts of evidence before subpoenas were issued.”
“The appellants have not identified any similarly implicated company that has not been investigated or any executives of such a company who have not been removed.”
“Therefore, the appellants failed to demonstrate that they were treated differently than anyone in the same situation.”