Trump fraud investigation: New York Attorney General wants ex-president to give evidence

Letitia James also reveals she is dropping her bid to become governor so she can keep working the case against the former president’s eponymous company

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Thursday 09 December 2021 18:20
James drops out of NY governor race
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New York State Attorney GeneralLetitia James is looking to have former president Donald Trump give evidence in the her office’s investigation into whether widespread fraud “permeated” his eponymous real estate company, the Trump Organization.

Her office has issued a subpoena for his testimony, the New York Times also reported.

According to The Washington Post, Ms James is seeking to have Mr Trump appear for a 7 January deposition conducted by attorneys from her office, which is investigating whether the company committed fraud by using different valuations of the same property for different purposes, such as applying for loans versus paying real estate taxes.

Ms James, the Empire State’s top elected law enforcement official, has been conducting a long-running investigation into Mr Trump’s business practices, including whether the Trump Organization improperly obtained tax breaks on its Seven Springs estate in Westchester County.

Her office is also assisting Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office in a criminal probe of whether the company broke tax laws.

The first-term attorney general, who in October declared herself a candidate in the Democratic primary for next year’s gubernatorial election, announced that she was suspending her campaign for governor in order to seek a second term in her current role.

“I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general. There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job,” she said.

Ms James added that she was looking to “complete the work” she’d been elected to do in 2018, when she promised voters she would work to hold Mr Trump, who was then the sitting president, accountable at a time when his status as president made him immune from prosecution.

In July, Mr Vance obtained indictments against the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, for what prosecutors called a “sweeping and audacious” tax fraud scheme by which executives collected millions in off-the-books income and the company avoided paying taxes on their compensation.

Mr Trump has not been involved with the day-to-day operations of his company since 2017, when he handed responsibility for it to his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr in anticipation of assuming the presidency. Ms James’ investigators took Eric Trump’s testimony during a deposition last October.

He has not been personally charged with any crime, but if he refuses to comply with Ms James’ office’s demand that he appear for a deposition, he can be taken to a court and forced to appear by judicial order.

Mr Trump has frequently gone to great lengths to avoid sitting for sworn depositions, in which any false answers he gives to their questions would subject him to criminal charges for perjury.

During the two-year investigation into his 2016 campaign’s potential ties with the Russian government by former FBI director Robert Mueller, Mr Trump’s attorneys successfully resisted Mr Mueller’s demands that the then-president sit for in-person interviews with investigators.

Mr Trump’s then-personal lawyer, ex-New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, said at the time that Mr Mueller and his team were trying to “trap” Mr Trump into committing perjury.

A spokesperson for Mr Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent.

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