February 21, 2022
A New York judge ruled on Thursday, February 17, that the former president and two of his adult children must testify under oath as part of the New York attorney general’s civil-fraud investigation into the former president and his company, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James sent subpoenas in December seeking testimony from all three—Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump, Jr.—as well as documents from the elder Trump.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron denied the Trumps’ bid to block or delay the subpoenas and ordered them to appear for depositions within three weeks. He also ordered the former president to hand over documents within two weeks.
“A State Attorney General commences investigating a business entity, uncovers copious evidence of possible financial fraud, and wants to question, under oath, several of the entities’ principals, including its namesake,” Justice Engoron wrote in the eight-page ruling. “She has the clear right to do so.”
The judge rejected the Trumps’ argument that the subpoenas would be used to improperly gather evidence for a separate criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney. The civil probe, he said, was spurred not by James’s campaign promises, as the Trumps had claimed, but by previous congressional testimony from former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
The judge said it would “have been a blatant dereliction of duty” for the attorney general not to investigate the allegations or subpoena the Trumps.
Ronald Fischetti, a lawyer for the former president, pledged to appeal. “This is a case of first impression, and I think we are going to win,” Fischetti said.
Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., also said his clients would likely appeal.
“Today, justice prevailed,” James said in a statement, adding, “No one is above the law.”
The judge said the “800-pound gorilla in the room” was that one of the subpoenas was directed to the former president of the United States. “To me, he’s a citizen,” said Justice Engoron. “He’s a respondent.”
Research contact: @WSJ