Former President Donald Trump and two of his children have appealed in their fight against the New York Attorney General’s attempt to depose them in a civil investigation into the Trump Organization, saying a lower court had erred in denying the Trumps’ request to quash their subpoenas.
In their appeal filed Monday, Trump and his children Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. argued that if New York Attorney General Letitia James wanted their testimony, she should bring them before a state grand jury investigating the case. Trump Organization, where witnesses are granted transactional immunity for their testimony in New York.
The Trumps’ attorneys wrote that if the attorney general’s office is allowed to depose their clients, the state’s constitutional and statutory protections can easily be ‘eviscerated if the same agency involved in the criminal investigation simply opens a civil investigation’. ” on the same subject. questions.”
“The question is whether the (Attorney General’s office) can use subpoenas to avoid the grand jury process and compel testimony from those it does not wish to grant immunity,” the appeal said.
A state judge ruled against the Trumps’ request in February, saying they could invoke their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refuse to answer questions, which Eric Trump did during his deposition in 2020. Lawyers for the Trump family argued that a jury could draw an “adverse inference” if the Trumps chose not to answer questions in the depositions.
New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron had ordered the Trumps to sit for depositions by March 10, but the former president and his children reached an agreement to delay those appearances until after an appeal is decided.
James said in court papers in January that his office’s civil investigation uncovered significant evidence that the Trump Organization used “fraudulent or deceptive asset valuations to obtain a multitude of economic benefits, including loans , insurance coverage and tax deductions” and that the financial statements had numerous “misleading statements and omissions.”
A parallel criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has examined the former president and his company and whether they misled lenders, insurers and others by providing false or misleading financial statements on property values. But the investigation is at an impasse and two top lawyers resigned earlier this month after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said he was not ready to authorize an indictment against the former president, CNN previously reported.
The Trumps’ lawyers wrote that it is “undisputed” that the criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is targeting Trump’s property appraisals and valuations in financial statements to tax authorities and financial institutions, as does the Attorney General’s investigation. The Trumps’ attorneys cited a filing from the attorney general’s office in January that said “coordination between parallel civil and criminal proceedings is standard procedure.”
In their appeal, the Trumps’ attorneys also ask the appeals court to overturn Engoron’s ruling and allow a hearing on “the scope and extent of coordination” between the Trump office. Manhattan District Attorney and Attorney General’s Office. The Trumps’ attorneys want to ask if two attorneys in James’ office are providing information or reporting to the attorney general’s office. The Trumps also want to ask if the attorney general’s office is providing all of the information it has gathered to the district attorney’s office and whether it would immediately provide in-court testimony to the district attorney’s office, among other issues.
In a statement shortly after the appeal was filed, James said his office would continue to monitor the facts.
“Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr. and Ivanka Trump have been ordered by a judge to comply with our investigation into the financial dealings of Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization,” James said. “Despite continued efforts to prevent this investigation, no one can stop our quest for justice, however powerful it may be.”
The Trumps’ attorneys again described James’ public statements about Donald Trump in their appeal, calling them “an extraordinary and unprecedented barrage of inappropriate public statements” since she ran for office in 2018, threatening to investigate and prosecute Trump and those close to him. . The appeal argues that Engoron’s decision did not respond to James’ comments, saying they reveal “extraordinary animosity” on James’ part and cannot be ignored.
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