Judge Orders Eric Trump to Testify Before Election Day

On Wednesday, a New York State judge ordered President Donald Trump’s son Eric to answer questions under oath in a fraud investigation into his family’s real estate business before Election Day.

What We Know:

  • Last week, lawyers for Eric Trump said he was willing to be interviewed under oath but that he refused to do it until after the presidential election this November, arguing that he did not want his deposition to be used “for political purposes”. But on Wednesday, Arthur F. Engoron, a judge in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, ruled that he must sit for the deposition no later than October 7, finding Trump’s push for the delay unnecessary.
  • “This court finds that application unpersuasive,” Justice Engoron said in his ruling Wednesday afternoon after a two-hour hearing earlier in the day. “Mr. Trump cites no authority in support of his request, and in any event, neither petitioner nor this court is bound by timelines of the national election.”
  • Engoron also ordered the company and related lawyers and entities to provide the court with a variety of records connected to four of the properties under scrutiny. The case for which Trump needs to be deposed is related to a civil fraud investigation in which Letitia James, the attorney general, has been investigating whether President Trump and the Trump Organization committed fraud by overstating assets to get loans and tax benefits.
  • Eric Trump is the executive vice president of his father’s business and according to court papers, James had asked the judge to compel Trump to answer questions under oath as well as turn over a variety of documents that the attorney general’s office sought in a subpoena.
  • A deposition was originally scheduled for back in July, but Trump canceled the interview abruptly a few days before it was scheduled. In August, the Trump Organization told the attorney general’s office that the company and its lawyers would not comply with seven of the subpoenas related to the investigation. Last week, company lawyers said Trump would be willing to be interviewed in November, after the election, citing his “extreme travel schedule” and his determination “to avoid the use of his deposition attendance for political purposes” as reasoning.
  • “I think as the world knows, there’s an election going on in about four weeks in this country, maybe five weeks,” Alan S. Futerfas, one of Trump’s lawyers, said. “Mr. Trump, Eric Trump, is a vital and integral part of that, and he’s traveling just about seven days a week, if not, in fact, seven days a week.” Matthew Colangelo, a lawyer in the attorney general’s office, said that “the mere ground of personal inconvenience isn’t a basis to delay compliance with a lawful subpoena for Eric Trump’s testimony, which from what we can tell, he no longer contests.” Colangelo cited that the subpoena for his testimony was served in May and in June both parties had agreed to a date in July for his attendance.
  • In a statement released Wednesday night in response to the judge’s order, Trump insisted that the investigation was “a continued political vendetta and attempt to interfere with the upcoming election.”

“The New York Attorney General has called my father an ‘illegitimate’ president and pledged to take him down while she was running for office,” the statement said. “That said, since I previously agreed to appear for an interview, I will do so as scheduled.”

  • In addition to the broad range of documents that James requested to be turned over, Engoron also ruled that some additional records, appearing to include several tax documents relating to some of the properties, must be handed over to him to review in his chambers in order to determine whether they also should also be turned over to James for the investigation.
  • James and the attorney general’s office released a statement after the judge’s ruling, praising his decision. “Justice and the rule of law prevailed today,” the statement said. “We will immediately move to ensure that Donald Trump and the Trump Organization comply with the court’s order and submit financial records related to our investigation.”

  • The organization is being accused of improperly inflating the values on some of its properties in order to obtain loans and get economic and tax benefits related to those properties. According to CNBC, Trump bought a property in 1996 in Westchester County, New York, for $7.5 million but in 2012 his company valued it at $290 million. The organization was then able to claim a tax deduction of over $21 million for the property. The value of 40 Wall St. in Manhattan, Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles, and Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago are also under investigation.

Eric Trump must sit down with the attorney general’s office for deposition by October 7. The Trump Organization maintains its innocence at this time.