Trump, children ordered to testify in New York attorney general’s investigation
NEW YORK, Feb 17 (Reuters) – A New York judge ruled on Thursday that former U.S. President Donald Trump and two of his adult children must respond under oath within 21 days to the Attorney General’s civil investigation. State about their family business.
Judge Arthur Engoron of New York State Court in Manhattan ruled in favor of Attorney General Letitia James ordering Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr and daughter Ivanka Trump to testify.
Engoron said James had a “clear right” to issue his subpoenas and question the Trumps after uncovering “extensive evidence of possible financial fraud.”
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Not issuing a subpoena “would have been a gross dereliction of duty,” Engoron wrote.
“Today justice prevailed,” James said in a statement. “No one will be allowed to stand in the way of the pursuit of justice, however powerful. No one is above the law.”
The decision follows a two-hour hearing in which the Trumps’ lawyers accused James of circumventing their clients’ constitutional rights by seeking testimony that she could then use against them in a parallel criminal investigation.
Trump attorney Alina Habba accused James of ‘selective prosecution and prosecutorial misconduct the likes of which this country has never seen’, citing what she called the Democratic attorney general’s ‘vile contempt’ for Trump, a Republican.
“If he wasn’t who he is, she wouldn’t be doing this,” Habba said. “This tribunal can help stop this circus.”
Trump, in a statement later Thursday, called the accusations false and accused James of having a political agenda by targeting him and his family.
“This is the continuation of the greatest witch hunt in history – and remember, I can’t get a fair hearing in New York because of the hatred I have from the judges and the justice system. This is not possible!” Trump said in the statement. .
Last month, James said his nearly three-year investigation of the Trump Organization had uncovered significant evidence of possible fraud.
She described what she called misleading claims about the values of the Trump brand and six properties, saying the company may have inflated property values to get bank loans and lowered them to lower tax bills .
The Trumps have not been charged with any criminal acts.
Engoron declined the Trumps’ request to put James’ case on hold while the criminal case, led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, is pending. James joined this investigation last May.
The criminal investigation, opened by Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance, resulted last July in tax evasion charges against the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. Both pleaded not guilty.
‘COMPLETELY MISSING THE 8TH NOTE’
Engoron said the argument that James was trying to circumvent grand jury protections, which would give the Trumps immunity, by issuing civil subpoenas “completely misses the mark.”
He said the Trumps may refuse to answer questions, noting that Donald Trump’s other adult son, Eric Trump, invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination more than 500 times when the attorney general’s office challenged him. interviewed in 2020.
The judge also rejected the Trumps’ claim that James’ sometimes aggressive public statements regarding the investigation of Donald Trump, including the promise that “we will definitely sue him”, illustrated the “irregularity” of his investigation.
Engoron said the spark for the investigation was not James’ dislike of the former president, but rather Congressional testimony from Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, that the Trumps ” were preparing the books.
The judge also noted the history of Trump’s investigations by the attorney general’s office, including “significant settlements” with James’ predecessors regarding a university and charitable foundation of the same name.
Trump is suing to try to stop James’ investigation. He did not say whether he would run for president again in 2024.
Engoron ruled after Trump’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA decided last week to sever ties with him and the Trump Organization, saying it could no longer endure a decade of financial statements despite the discovery of any material anomaly. Read more
The Trump Organization said Mazars’ findings effectively render James and Bragg’s investigations “moot.”
The Washington DC Attorney General is separately suing the Trump Organization and the Trump Inaugural Committee for the alleged misuse of $1.1 million in charitable funds. A September 26 trial date was set for Thursday.
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Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Luc Cohen and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Will Dunham and Grant McCool
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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