Loading...

NY Attorney General Seeks Trump’s Testimony in Civil Probe

December 9, 2021by Michael R. Sisak, Associated Press
NY Attorney General Seeks Trump’s Testimony in Civil Probe
New York Attorney General Letitia James addresses a news conference at her office, in New York, May 21, 2021. James is seeking former President Donald Trump's testimony in an ongoing investigation into his business practices, a person familiar with the matter said, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — New York’s attorney general is seeking former President Donald Trump’s testimony in an ongoing civil investigation into his business practices, a person familiar with the matter said.

Attorney General Letitia James’ office has requested that Trump sit for a deposition on Jan. 7, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

The news was first reported by The Washington Post.

Trump’s representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A message seeking comment was left with Trump’s lawyer, Ronald Fischetti. James’ office declined to comment.

A spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is conducting a parallel criminal investigation into Trump’s business dealings, said Thursday that the interview request “is not part of the criminal investigation.”

In the past, the Republican ex-president has decried the investigations as part of a “witch hunt.”

James, a Democrat, has spent more than two years looking at whether Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misled banks or tax officials about the value of assets — inflating them to gain favorable loan terms or minimizing them to reap tax savings.

Requesting Trump’s testimony is a first step in a process that could eventually lead to issuing a subpoena and going to a judge to order him to cooperate if he were to refuse.

James had announced a run for New York governor in late October, but on Thursday, she suspended that campaign and cited ongoing investigations in her decision to instead seek reelection as state attorney general.

James’ investigators last year interviewed one of Trump’s sons, Trump Organization executive Eric Trump, as part of the probe. James’ office went to court to enforce a subpoena on the younger Trump and a judge forced him to testify after his lawyers abruptly canceled a previously scheduled deposition.

Although the civil investigation is separate from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.‘s criminal investigation, James’ office has been involved in both. Earlier this year, Vance gained access to the longtime real estate mogul’s tax records after a multiyear fight that twice went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Vance, who is leaving office at the end of the year, recently convened a new grand jury to hear evidence as he weighs whether to seek more indictments in the investigation, which resulted in tax fraud charges in July against the Trump Organization and its longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg.

Weisselberg pleaded not guilty to charges alleging he and the company evaded taxes on lucrative fringe benefits paid to executives.

Asked about the status of the criminal probe, Vance said last week: “I think it’s pretty clear that our investigation is active and ongoing.”

It is rare for law enforcement agencies to issue a civil subpoena for testimony from a person who is also the subject of a related criminal investigation.

That’s partly because the person under criminal investigation could simply cite their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. It is unlikely that Trump’s lawyers would allow him to be deposed unless they were sure his testimony couldn’t be used against him in a criminal case.

Both investigations are at least partly related to allegations made in news reports and by Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, that Trump had a history of misrepresenting the value of assets.

James’ office issued subpoenas to local governments as part of the civil probe for records pertaining to Trump’s estate north of Manhattan, Seven Springs, and a tax benefit Trump received for placing land into a conservation trust. Vance later issued subpoenas seeking many of the same records.

James’ office has also been looking at similar issues relating to a Trump office building in New York City, a hotel in Chicago and a golf course near Los Angeles. Her office also won a series of court rulings forcing Trump’s company and a law firm it hired to turn over troves of records.

In October, Trump testified under oath behind closed doors for several hours during a deposition in a lawsuit brought by protesters who say his security team roughed them up in the early days of his presidential campaign in 2015.

Trump had faced a Dec. 23 deadline for questioning in former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos’ defamation lawsuit against him, but she dropped the case last month.

Trump was less cooperative with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian election interference.

Mueller’s team of investigators sought an interview with Trump for months and though Trump, at times, stated publicly that he was willing to sit down with them, his lawyers long resisted the overture.

Instead, Trump’s lawyers in November 2018 submitted written responses on certain topics that Mueller’s team regarded as “inadequate.” Prosecutors in that matter decided against subpoenaing Trump to compel his testimony.

___

Associated Press reporters Jill Colvin in New York and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.

In The News

Health

Voting

In The News

October 5, 2022
by Kate Michael
Renewable Thermal Energy Storage Companies Bringing the Heat to Industry

WASHINGTON — Just like the ground stays toasty even after the sun sets or your cup of hot chocolate can... Read More

WASHINGTON — Just like the ground stays toasty even after the sun sets or your cup of hot chocolate can warm your cold hands, thermal energy — or energy that comes from the temperature of a heated substance — has productively been used for cooking, drying,... Read More

October 5, 2022
by Dan McCue
Supreme Court Considers Exception to Veteran Disability Deadlines

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in the case of a Navy veteran seeking an exception... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in the case of a Navy veteran seeking an exception to the Department of Veterans Affairs post-service claims filing deadline. Adolfo Arellano served in the Navy from 1971 to 1981, spending much of that time aboard... Read More

October 5, 2022
by Dan McCue
Florida Officials Still Trying to Determine Way Forward After Ian

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — With the clock ticking ever closer to Election Day, Florida election officials are continuing to tally damage... Read More

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — With the clock ticking ever closer to Election Day, Florida election officials are continuing to tally damage and disruption assessments due to Hurricane Ian and charting a course to a fair and secure election. In an email to The Well News, Leon County... Read More

October 4, 2022
by Dan McCue
DOJ Begins to Spell Out Midterm Election Security Efforts

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice on Tuesday showed the first outward signs of it ramping up election security efforts... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice on Tuesday showed the first outward signs of it ramping up election security efforts ahead of the 2022 midterms, spelling out some of the activities it will be engaged in before and after Nov. 8. Consistent with longstanding department policies... Read More

October 4, 2022
by Dan McCue
Trump Asks Justices to Intervene in Classified Documents Case

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to review a ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit... Read More

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to review a ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed the Justice Department to continue to review documents marked as classified that were seized from Trump’s Florida residence last summer. Arguing... Read More

October 4, 2022
by Dan McCue
Former Congressman, Blue Dog Co-Founder, Bill Brewster Dies

MARIETTA, Okla. — Former Rep. Bill Brewster, who served three terms in Congress and was a co-founder of the Blue... Read More

MARIETTA, Okla. — Former Rep. Bill Brewster, who served three terms in Congress and was a co-founder of the Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats, died Monday after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 80. Brewster, a graduate of Southwestern Oklahoma State University, was a... Read More

News From The Well