Trump loses appeal, must testify in New York civil probe

May 25, 2022, 8:23 PM | Updated: May 26, 2022, 11:50 am
FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks from the podium during a campaign rally, on May 1, 2022...

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks from the podium during a campaign rally, on May 1, 2022, in Greenwood, Neb. Trump must answer questions under oath in New York state's civil investigation into his business practices, a state appeals court ruled Thursday, May 26, 2022. (Kenneth Ferriera/Lincoln Journal Star via AP, File)

(Kenneth Ferriera/Lincoln Journal Star via AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump must answer questions under oath in the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into his business practices, a state appeals court ruled Thursday, rejecting his argument that he be excused from testifying because his answers could be used in a parallel criminal probe.

A four-judge panel in the appellate division of the state’s trial court upheld Judge Arthur Engoron’s Feb. 17 ruling, which enforced subpoenas requiring that Trump and his two eldest children — Ivanka and Donald Jr. — give deposition testimony in Attorney General Letitia James’ probe.

“The existence of a criminal investigation does not preclude civil discovery of related facts, at which a party may exercise the privilege against self-incrimination,” the appellate panel wrote, citing the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and other legal protections for witnesses.

Lawyers for the Trumps agreed in March that they would sit for depositions within 14 days of an appellate panel decision upholding Engoron’s ruling. They could also appeal the decision to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, delaying the matter and the Trumps’ potential testimony indefinitely.

A message seeking comment was left with lawyers for the Trumps.

James lauded the ruling, which came just two weeks after the appellate panel heard oral arguments in the case. She tweeted that her investigation “will continue undeterred because no one is above the law.”

“Once again, the courts have ruled that Donald Trump must comply with our lawful investigation into his financial dealings,” James said in a written statement. “We will continue to follow the facts of this case and ensure that no one can evade the law.”

James has said her investigation has uncovered evidence Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, used “fraudulent or misleading” valuations of assets like golf courses and skyscrapers to get loans and tax benefits. Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. have both been executives in the Trump Organization and are among their father’s most trusted allies.

The appellate panel, in its ruling, described the investigation as focusing on whether the Trumps “committed persistent fraud in their financial practices and disclosures.”

Trump, a Republican, denies the allegations and has said James’ investigation in part of a politically motivated “witch hunt.”

In appealing Engoron’s subpoena ruling, his lawyers argued that James, a Democrat, was engaging in “selective prosecution.” The appellate panel rejected that, saying the investigation was on solid legal footing and that the Trumps showed no evidence they or their company were “treated differently” than other companies under similar scrutiny.

A lawyer for the Trumps, Alan Futerfas, told the appellate panel in oral arguments on May 11 that James appeared to be using civil subpoenas to get around a New York law that requires immunity for people testifying before a criminal grand jury.

Judith Vale, arguing on behalf of James’ office, countered there was ample evidence from the civil investigation to support subpoenas for the Trumps’ testimony.

She also cited legal precedent allowing the attorney general’s office to do so, and said the Trumps could always invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination — as Trump’s son Eric did hundreds of times in a 2020 deposition.

Appellate Court Judge Rolando T. Acosta appeared to agree with that position, foreshadowing Thursday’s ruling as he questioned Futerfas from the bench.

Anything Trump says in a civil deposition in James’ investigation could be used against him in the criminal probe being overseen by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Last summer, spurred by evidence uncovered by James’ office, the DA’s office charged the Trump Organization and its longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, with tax fraud, alleging he collected more than $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation. Weisselberg and the company have pleaded not guilty.

Thursday’s appellate court ruling was the latest in a flurry of legal activity involving Trump and the attorney general’s investigation in the last few weeks.

Last week, Trump paid $110,000 in fines and met several other conditions as he seeks to end a contempt of court order Engoron issued on April 25 after he was slow to respond to another subpoena from James seeking documents and other evidence.

On Monday, James’ office said it had subpoenaed Trump’s longtime executive assistant, Rhona Graff, and planned to question her under oath next week in the probe.

Meanwhile, a federal judge in New York is expected to rule soon in a lawsuit Trump filed against James in December in an attempt to shut down her investigation. Trump’s lawyers want an injunction to halt the probe. James’ office is seeking to throw out the lawsuit.

At a May 13 hearing in the federal case, a lawyer for James’ office said it was “nearing the end” of the probe and that “there’s clearly been a substantial amount of evidence” to support a civil enforcement proceeding, although a final determination hasn’t been made.

Since James’ investigation is civil in nature, she could end up bringing a lawsuit and seeking financial penalties against Trump or his company, or even a ban on them being involved in certain types of businesses.

That’s what happened in January when a judge barred ex-drug company CEO Martin Shkreli from the pharmaceutical industry for life.

___

Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak and send confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips/

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Mormons listen during The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' twice-annual church c...
Associated Press

Mormons to meet in Salt Lake City for biannual conference

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Tens of thousands of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are scheduled to attend the faith’s biannual conference this weekend, in which senior leaders will address nearly 17 million believers throughout the world from their headquarters in Utah. The conference, held at the church’s 21,000-seat conference […]
1 day ago
A paramilitary soldier stands guard outside the first multiplex cinema of Kashmir in Srinagar, Indi...
Associated Press

Cinema opens in Kashmir city after 14 years but few turn up

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — A multi-screen cinema hall opened on Saturday in the main city of Indian-controlled Kashmir for the first time in 14 years in the government’s push to showcase normalcy in the disputed region that was brought under India’s direct rule three years ago. Decades of a deadly conflict, bombings and brutal Indian […]
1 day ago
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a member of the Chinese honor guard unfurls the Chine...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: China marks 73rd anniversary in National Day

BEIJING (AP) — Spectators watched a masked, 96-member honor guard raise a Chinese flag on Tiananmen Square as the ruling Communist Party marked its 73rd anniversary in power on Saturday under strict anti-virus controls. The flag-raising at sunrise was one of the few National Day events planned after authorities called on the public to avoid […]
1 day ago
In this image from video broadcast by RTB state television, coup spokesman Capt. Kiswendsida Farouk...
Associated Press

Security fears grow after latest Burkina Faso coup

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — As Islamic extremists intensified their attacks in Burkina Faso earlier this year, coup leader Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba urged the West African nation’s people to give him until September to improve things as interim president. A group of junior officers held him to just that Friday evening: calling […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Firefly Aerospace reaches orbit with new Alpha rocket

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A new aerospace company reached orbit with its second rocket launch and deployed multiple small satellites on Saturday. Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, in early morning darkness and arced over the Pacific. “100% mission success,” Firefly tweeted later. A day earlier, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Powerful earthquake shakes Indonesia’s Sumatra, kills 1

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A strong and shallow earthquake shook Indonesia’s Sumatra island on Saturday, killing a resident, injuring 11 and damaging more than a a dozen houses and buildings, police said. The magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck about 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) northeast of Sibolga, a coastal city in North Sumatra province, according to the […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Trump loses appeal, must testify in New York civil probe