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Judge rules that Trump must testify during New York's investigation

A judge ruled Thursday that former President Donald Trump must answer questions in New York's civil investigation into the business practices.

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Judge rules that Trump must testify during New York's investigation

Judge Arthur Engoron directed Trump and his two oldest children, Ivanka, and Donald Trump Jr. to comply with the subpoenas issued by New York Attorney General Letitia Jam in December.

After a hearing of two hours with James and Trump lawyers, Engoron stated that Trump and his two children must be present for depositions within 21 Days.

"In the end, a State Attorney general begins investigating a business entity. He uncovers copious evidence regarding possible financial fraud and wants to question several of the principals of the entities, including the namesake. Engoron stated in his decision that she has the right to do this.

Although the eight page ruling will almost certainly be appealed it could force the ex-president into tough decisions about whether to answer questions or remain silent. He cited his Fifth Amendment right to self-incrimination and has been criticized for in the past.



 

Trump released a statement in which he stated, "THERE IS NOT A CASE!" and accused James of doing "everything within their corrupt discretion to interfere my business relationships and with the political process."

Trump described the ruling as "a continuation of history's greatest Witch Hunt -- and, remember, because Judges and the judiciary hate me, I can’t get fair hearing in New York." It's impossible."

James stated in a statement that no one would be allowed to stop justice being pursued, regardless of their power. The law is for everyone.

James, a Democrat said that her investigation revealed evidence Trump's organization, The Trump Organization, fraudulently valued assets such as skyscrapers and golf courses to obtain loans and tax benefits.

Engoron was told by Trump's lawyers that he should be sitting for a civil deposition while his company is under criminal investigation. This is an inappropriate attempt to circumvent a state law which prohibits prosecutors from calling anyone to testify before a grand jury of criminal criminals without immunity.

"If she requests sworn testimony from me, he is entitled to immunity. Trump gets immunity for what they say, or he doesn't," Trump's criminal defense attorney, Ronald Fischetti said during the hearing. The hearing was held via video conference.

In the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal probe, anything Trump says in civil depositions could be used against him. Fischetti stated that Trump could invoke the Fifth Amendment to hurt any potential criminal defense.

Fischetti stated, "That'll appear on every frontpage in any newspaper in the world." "How do I pick a jury for that case?"

Kevin Wallace, a lawyer for the attorney General's Office, stated to Engoron that it was not unusual to have both civil and criminal investigations proceeding simultaneously. A request by lawyers for Donald Trumps to suspend the civil investigation until the criminal case is resolved was rejected by the judge.

"Mr. Trump is indeed a prominent individual. Wallace stated that this is a unique situation. It's unusual that so many people pay attention to the rather dull hearing on subpoena enforcement. The legal issues we are dealing with here are fairly standard.

After James' investigation ended, Engoron had previously ordered Eric Trump to testify in 2020. His lawyers had abruptly cancelled a scheduled deposition. In his interview, Eric Trump invoked hundreds of times the Fifth Amendment. When James asked him questions, Allen Weisselberg, chief finance officer of Trump Organization, did the same.

Alan Futerfas was a lawyer for Ivanka Trump Jr. and Donald Trump Jr. He said that he has no reason to believe that either of them are criminal targets.

Trump didn't immediately respond to the ruling. Trump made a statement Tuesday expressing his disgust at the "sham investigation" of "a great company that has done an amazing job for New York and beyond" as well as a racist "continuation a Witch Hunt like it has never been seen before in this Country."

Alina Habba, Trump's lawyer, accused James of "selective prosecution" and claimed that the attorney general is "engaging [in viewpoint discrimination] motivated by her political ambitions" and disdain for former Republican president, as exemplified by comments she made throughout the years about going after Trump.

Habba stated that this is an exceptional case in which we can prove selective prosecution. She's spoken out so strongly and used every opportunity to vent her hatred against Donald Trump and his family, and she was able to do so because of Habba.

Wallace pointed out that the state attorney general was looking into Trump-related issues as early as 2013, well before James was elected. This included probes into Trump's charitable foundation and Trump University's training program.

Engoron stated that the thousands of pages of evidence that he has reviewed in the case show there is sufficient basis to continue the investigation. He also said that it undercuts the notion "that this ongoing investigation was based on personal animus and not facts."

Engoron also took advantage of the fact that Trump's long-standing accounting firm sent him a letter this week advising him not to rely on financial statements it had prepared over years based on his company valuations. This was in response to questions about their accuracy.

Engoron called the letter a "red flag warning that Trump's financial statements are unreliable"; he also criticized Trump's company's assertion, in a statement made to the media, that James' investigation should be stopped because the accounting firm didn't conclude that there were material discrepancies. He wrote that this claim was "as outrageous as it is absurd."

In light of the evidence in James' civil investigation James, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office indicted Weisselberg as well as the Trump Organization for tax fraud. They claimed that he had collected more than $1.7million in off-the-books damages. Weisselberg and his company pleaded not guilty.

A separate order was issued Thursday by a judge ordering Weisselberg that he sit for a limited deposition in Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine's lawsuit accusing Trump’s inaugural committee of grossly underspending at Trump’s Pennsylvania Avenue hotel in an attempt to enrich Trump's family.

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