New York A.G. Can Question Trump Under Oath, Appeals Court Rules

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New York|New York A.G. Can Question Trump Under Oath, Appeals Court Rules

The judges unanimously rejected the former president’s appeal of an earlier ruling that ordered him and two of his adult children to testify in a civil investigation into his family business.

Lawyers for Donald J. Trump had argued that the investigation was politically motivated and that Mr. Trump should not be forced to sit for deposition.
Credit...Brittany Greeson for The New York Times

May 26, 2022, 12:02 p.m. ET

Donald J. Trump and two of his adult children must sit for questioning under oath as part of the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into their business practices, a state appeals court ruled on Thursday.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers had argued that the inquiry by the state attorney general, Letitia James, was politically motivated and that she should not be permitted to question him or the children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump. The lawyers also claimed that the attorney general could not force Mr. Trump to face questioning in her civil investigation because he was also the subject of a criminal inquiry into some of the same business practices.

But the court found that the Trumps had not shown they were being treated differently from other investigative targets and argued that “the existence of a criminal investigation does not preclude civil discovery of related facts.”

A lawyer for the Trump Organization, the former president’s family real estate business, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The unanimous ruling from a four-judge panel of the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, First Department, upheld a decision from a lower court granting Ms. James permission to question Mr. Trump and his children.

But the ruling will not automatically lead to an interview with Mr. Trump. Lawyers for the Trumps could appeal the ruling to New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. It is not clear whether that court would agree to hear the case.

Ms. James’s office is in the final stages of its investigation, which began more than three years ago and has focused on whether Mr. Trump improperly inflated the value of his properties and other assets. Last month, a lawyer for her office said that Ms. James was preparing to file an action against Mr. Trump in the near future. That action is likely to be a lawsuit.

In a filing earlier this year, Ms. James’s office said that the Trump Organization engaged in “fraudulent or misleading” practices. But her lawyers added that they needed to collect additional records and testimony before they could make a decision about whether to file a lawsuit.

Since then, they have worked to obtain testimony and documents from Mr. Trump. Last month, the New York State judge who first permitted Ms. James to question the Trump family held the former president in contempt after his lawyers failed to explain to the court its search for documents relevant to the investigation. The contempt order was lifted earlier this month.

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