Trump loses appeal. He must testify in New York civil investigation

A state appeals court ruled that Donald Trump, the former President, must answer questions under oath during the New York Attorney General's civil investigation into business practices.

Trump loses appeal. He must testify in New York civil investigation

A state appeals court ruled that Donald Trump, the former President, must answer questions under oath during the New York Attorney General's civil investigation into business practices. It rejected his claim that he should be exempted from testifying as his answers could be used in parallel criminal investigations.

The appellate division of the state trial court's four-judge panel upheld Judge Arthur Engoron’s February 17 ruling. This subpoena enforced that Trump and his two oldest children, Ivanka (and Donald Jr.) -- testify in Attorney General Letitia James' probe.

The appellate panel stated that "the existence of a criminal probe does not preclude civil discoveryof related facts, at which a person may exercise the privilege of self-incrimination," citing the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and other legal protections available to witnesses.

In March, Trump's lawyers agreed to sit for depositions within 14 day of the Engoron ruling being upheld by an appellate panel. They can also appeal to the Court of Appeals in the state, which could delay the matter and Trumps' potential testimony indefinitely.

An email was sent to the Trumps seeking comments.

James applauded the ruling which was issued just two weeks after oral arguments were heard by the appellate panel. She tweeted that she would not be deterred by the ruling, "because no one is above law."

James stated in writing that Donald Trump must follow the lawful investigation into financial transactions. "We will continue to monitor the facts and ensure that no one evades the law," James stated.

James claims that her investigation has revealed evidence Trump's organization, The Trump Organization, fraudulently valued assets such as skyscrapers and golf courses to obtain loans and tax benefits. Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump were both executives at the Trump Organization, and they are among their most trusted friends.

In its ruling, the appellate panel stated that the probe was focused on whether Trumps had "committed persistent fraud" in financial practices and disclosures.

Trump, a Republican denies the allegations. He has stated that James' investigation was part of a politically motivated, "witch hunt."

His lawyers argued that James (a Democrat) was engaging in "selective prosecution." However, Engoron's subpoena ruling was overturned by the appellate panel. They stated that the investigation was sound and that there was no evidence that Trumps or their company were treated differently than other companies subject to similar scrutiny.

In oral arguments, Alan Futerfas (a Trump lawyer) told the appellate panel that James was using civil subpoenas in order to circumvent a New York law that provides immunity for those who testify before a criminal grand jury.

Judith Vale, arguing for James' office, countered that there was sufficient evidence from the civil investigation supporting subpoenas to the Trumps' testimony.

Trump loses appeal. He must testify in New York civil investigation

MICHAEL R. SISAK

Today

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Greenwood, Neb on May 1, 2022. A state appeals court ruled that Trump must answer questions under oath during New York's civil investigation into Trump's business practices. (Kenneth Ferriera/Lincoln Journal Star via AP File)

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Greenwood, Neb on May 1, 2022. A state appeals court ruled that Trump must answer questions under oath during New York's civil investigation into Trump's business practices. (Kenneth Ferriera/Lincoln Journal Star via AP File)

NEW YORK (AP), -- Trump's former president must answer questions under oath during a civil investigation into his business practices by the New York attorney General. A state appeals court ruled that Trump cannot testify because his answers could be used to investigate a parallel criminal case.

The appellate division of the state trial court's four-judge panel upheld Judge Arthur Engoron’s February 17 ruling. This subpoena enforced that Trump and his two oldest children, Ivanka (and Donald Jr.) -- testify in Attorney General Letitia James' probe.

The appellate panel stated that "the existence of a criminal probe does not preclude civil discoveryof related facts, at which a person may exercise the privilege of self-incrimination," citing the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and other legal protections available to witnesses.

In March, Trump's lawyers agreed to sit for depositions within 14 day of the Engoron ruling being upheld by an appellate panel. They can also appeal to the Court of Appeals in the state, which could delay the matter and Trumps' potential testimony indefinitely.

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An email was sent to the Trumps seeking comments.

James applauded the ruling which was issued just two weeks after oral arguments were heard by the appellate panel. She tweeted that she would not be deterred by the ruling, "because no one is above law."

James stated in writing that Donald Trump must follow the lawful investigation into financial transactions. "We will continue to monitor the facts and ensure that no one evades the law," James stated.

James claims that her investigation has revealed evidence Trump's organization, The Trump Organization, fraudulently valued assets such as skyscrapers and golf courses to obtain loans and tax benefits. Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump were both executives at the Trump Organization, and they are among their most trusted friends.

In its ruling, the appellate panel stated that the probe was focused on whether Trumps had "committed persistent fraud" in financial practices and disclosures.

Trump, a Republican denies the allegations. He has stated that James' investigation was part of a politically motivated, "witch hunt."

His lawyers argued that James (a Democrat) was engaging in "selective prosecution." However, Engoron's subpoena ruling was overturned by the appellate panel. They stated that the investigation was sound and that there was no evidence that Trumps or their company were treated differently than other companies subject to similar scrutiny.

In oral arguments, Alan Futerfas (a Trump lawyer) told the appellate panel that James was using civil subpoenas in order to circumvent a New York law that provides immunity for those who testify before a criminal grand jury.

Judith Vale, arguing for James' office, countered that there was sufficient evidence from the civil investigation supporting subpoenas to the Trumps' testimony.

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She also cited legal precedent that allowed the attorney general's to do so and stated that the Trumps could always invoke the Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination, as Eric Trump did hundreds of times during a 2020 deposition.

Judge Rolando T. Acosta of the Appellate Court appeared to agree with this position. This was foreshadowing Thursday’s ruling when he asked Futerfas directly from the bench.

Anything Trump said in a civil deposition during James' investigation could be used against Trump in the criminal probe being managed by Alvin Bragg, Manhattan District Attorney.

The DA's office brought forth evidence from James' office to charge the Trump Organization and its finance chief, Allen Weisselberg with tax fraud. They claimed that he received more than $1.7million in compensation off the books. Weisselberg and the firm have pleaded not guilty.

Thursday's appeal court ruling was just the latest in a series of legal activities involving Trump's and the attorney general's investigations in the past few weeks.

Trump paid $110,000 in penalties and fulfilled several other conditions last week to end a contempt order Engoron issued April 25th. He was slow to respond on another subpoena by James seeking documents.

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