New York Attorney General Letitia James (local time) subpoenaed Donald Trump and his children Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump as part of her civil probe into the former US president’s business practices and namesake company.
According to a Washington Post published report, both adult children of former President Donald Trump served as executives at his company – Trump Organization. The subpoenas were disclosed on Monday in an unsealed court filing that also detailed a schedule for challenges to the requests that the siblings and the former president sit for depositions and provide records.
Later in the day, Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr filed a motion to quash the subpoenas — or to delay them until a parallel criminal probe is completed, reported The Washington Post.
In the motion, attorneys for the Trump family argue that the New York criminal and civil investigations are connected and that James is trying to “circumvent the entire grand jury process” and “nullify [their] constitutional and statutory rights” by demanding their testimony on business matters that are also being examined in the criminal case.
As potential targets of the criminal probe, the Trumps have a right not to incriminate themselves to law enforcement, the motion says, noting that if they were to be called to the grand jury as witnesses, they would get automatic immunity from prosecution under New York law, said Jacobs and Connell.
James responded by issuing a statement vowing to compel the trio to testify. “For more than two years, members of the Trump family and the Trump Organization have continually sought to delay and impede our investigation into Donald Trump and the Trump Organization,” the statement said. “These delay tactics will not stop us from following the facts or the law.”
James’s office launched its civil investigation into the Trump Organization and its officers in March 2019, focusing on whether financial fraud was committed through property valuation practices. Investigators from the office are still requesting records and other evidence, reported The Washington Post.
The Washington Post reported in December that James had asked the former president to give testimony on Jan. 7 at her agency’s New York offices, a move Trump called politically motivated. His attorney, Ronald Fischetti, said at the time that Trump had firm grounds to challenge the subpoena, alleging that James’s office was “working hand-in-hand” with the Manhattan district attorney in its long-running criminal probe of the Trump Organization.
It is unclear if additional indictments will be filed. While James’s office is a partner in the criminal case, her civil investigation is separate — albeit with an overlapping focus. Her team has long been interested in the Trump Organization’s alleged practice of undervaluing properties for tax benefits but inflating property values to try to obtain more favourable loan interest and insurance rates.
The filing made public Monday shows that James has asked a New York Supreme Court civil judge to enforce the subpoenas to the Trumps. It is not the first time the office has asked Justice Arthur Engoron to intercede, said Jacobs and Connell.
Engoron previously ordered Eric Trump, another son of the former president who has been heavily involved in the family business, to sit for a deposition. He also played referee when parties including the Trump Organization resisted handing over certain documents.
Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump all took senior roles in their father’s company early in their careers, working in adjacent offices in Trump Tower as each shepherded different projects and aspects of the business.
When Trump entered the White House, the three children took different paths, with Ivanka Trump leaving the business to join him as a senior adviser. Don Jr and Eric remained in the private sector, with Don Jr focused more on politics and Eric handling many aspects of the Trump Organization business.