Former President Donald Trump, son Donald Jr. and daughter Ivanka have agreed to answer questions under oath next month in the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into his business practices, unless their lawyers persuade the state’s highest court to step in.
A Manhattan judge signed off Wednesday on an agreement that calls for the Trumps to give depositions — a legal term for sworn, pretrial testimony out of court — starting July 15.
Messages seeking comment were sent to the ex-president’s attorneys. State Atty. Gen. Letitia James’ office declined to comment, as did the younger Trumps’ attorney, Alan Futerfas.
Another Trump son, Eric Trump, gave a deposition in 2020 but declined to answer some questions.
The new agreement comes after a series of setbacks for the former president’s efforts to block James’ 3-year investigation.
James has said the inquiry has uncovered evidence that Trump’s company exaggerated the value of assets such as skyscrapers, golf courses and his Manhattan penthouse to get loans and insurance and tax breaks for land donations. A lawyer for her office told a judge last month that evidence could support legal action against the former president, his company or both, though the attorney said no decision had been made.
Trump has decried the investigation as part of a politically motivated “witch hunt” against him.
A New York state appeals court ruled May 26 that Trump had to undergo a deposition, upholding a lower court’s ruling that the attorney general had “the clear right” to question him and certain other principals in his company.
Then, on May 27, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that Trump had filed to seek a court order stopping James from investigating him.
The suit claimed that James, a Democrat, targeted the Republican ex-president because of political animus and violated his free speech and due process rights. A lawyer for Trump said at the time that the dismissal would be appealed.
James, meanwhile, said Trump had filed “baseless legal challenges” against her investigation and vowed it would continue.
Wednesday’s agreement acknowledges that the Trumps can appeal to New York’s top court, called the Court of Appeals, to try to overturn the decision that requires their depositions.
The former president had plenty of experience with such questioning during his business career, and he gave a deposition in October in a lawsuit filed by protesters who said his security team roughed them up during his first presidential campaign.
James’ office started investigating Trump in 2019, after his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen told Congress that Trump had a history of misrepresenting the value of company assets to gain favorable loan terms and tax benefits.
James’ office also has been involved in a parallel but separate investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
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