A New York judge ruled Thursday that former President Donald Trump and two of his adult children must comply with subpoenas that require them to answer questions under oath and turn over other evidence for a civil investigation of the Trump Organization by the state’s Attorney General’s Office.
Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump all were ordered by the ruling to appear for depositions by investigators for Attorney General Letitia James within the next 21 days. Trump also was ordered to comply within 14 days with a subpoena’s demand for documents and other information.
The ruling came after a contentious hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court, where lawyers for the Trumps attacked James for conducting what they said was a probe tainted by political bias, and a violation of the elder Trump’s constitutional rights.
The Trump lawyers had sought to block the subpoenas on those and other grounds.
James is investigating whether the Trump Organization improperly stated the valuations of various real estate assets to obtain more favorable loans, insurance rates and tax benefits. Donald Trump Jr. still runs the company with his brother Eric, while Ivanka previously was a top executive at the firm.
Trump also faces a pending criminal probe into the same issues by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. James has sent investigators from her office to assist in the DA’s probe.
Judge Arthur Engoron, in his ruling Thursday, dismissed the argument that James’ investigation was motivated by her personal disdain for Trump.
“Indeed, this Court’s in camera review of the thousands of documents responsive to [the Office of the Attorney General’s] prior subpoenas demonstrates that OAG has a sufficient basis for continuing its investigation, which undercuts the notion that this ongoing investigation is based on personal animus, not facts and law,” Engoron wrote.
“For OAG not to have investigated the original respondents, and not to have subpoenaed the New Trump Respondents, would have been a blatant dereliction of duty (and would have broken an oft-repeated campaign promise),” Engoron wrote.
” Indeed, the impetus for the investigation was not personal animus, not racial or ethnic or other discrimination, not campaign promises, but was sworn congressional testimony by former Trump associate Michael Cohen that respondents were ‘cooking the books.’ “
Engoron likewise brushed aside the Trumps’ argument that the issuance of civil subpoenas while the criminal probe is also occurring allows James “to extract information from them under the guise of a civil proceeding without OAG’s having to offer them the immunity that a grand jury setting would afford them.”
“This argument completely misses the mark,” Engoron wrote.
“Neither OAG nor the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has subpoenaed the New Trump Respondents to appear before a grand jury.”
Engoron also noted that the Trumps’ “argument overlooks the salient fact that they have an absolute right to refuse to answer…
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