New York Attorney General Letitia James recently subpoenaed former U.S. president Donald Trump and his two eldest children, demanding their testimony in connection with an ongoing civil investigation into the family’s business practices, according to a court filing made public Monday.
The subpoenas for Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump stem from an investigation “into the valuation of properties owned or controlled” by Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, the filing said.
Messages seeking comment were left with James’s office and lawyers for the Trumps.
The attorney general’s attempt to get testimony from the former president was reported in December, but the court filing Monday was the first public disclosure that investigators were also seeking information from Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
The Trumps are expected to file court papers seeking to quash the subpoenas, setting up a legal fight similar to one that played out last year after James’s office subpoenaed another Trump son.
Trump sued James last month, seeking to end the investigation after she requested that he sit for a Jan. 7 deposition. Trump’s lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges that the probe has violated his constitutional rights in a “thinly veiled effort to publicly malign Trump and his associates.”
Probe looking at value of assets
Monday’s court filing was the attorney general office’s first public acknowledgement that it has previously subpoenaed Trump’s testimony.
James, a Democrat, has spent more than two years looking at whether the Trump Organization misled banks or tax officials about the value of assets — inflating them to gain favourable loan terms or minimizing them to reap tax savings.
James’s investigators last year interviewed one of Trump’s sons, Trump Organization executive Eric Trump, as part of the probe. James’s office went to court to enforce a subpoena on the younger Trump and a judge forced him to testify after his lawyers abruptly cancelled a previously scheduled deposition.
Although the civil investigation is separate from a criminal investigation being run by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, James’s office has been involved in both. Earlier this year, former district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. gained access to the longtime real estate mogul’s tax records after a multiyear fight that twice went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Before he left office at the end of last year, Vance convened a new grand jury to hear evidence as he weighed whether to seek more indictments in the investigation, which resulted in tax fraud charges in July against the Trump Organization and its longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg.
Weisselberg pleaded not guilty to charges alleging he and the company evaded taxes on lucrative fringe benefits paid to executives.
Both investigations are at least partly related to allegations made in news reports and by Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, that Trump had a history of misrepresenting the value of assets.
James’s office issued subpoenas to local governments as part of the civil probe for records pertaining to Trump’s estate north of Manhattan, Seven Springs, and a tax benefit Trump received for placing land into a conservation trust. Vance later issued subpoenas seeking many of the same records.
James’s office has also been looking at similar issues relating to a Trump office building in New York City, a hotel in Chicago and a golf course near Los Angeles. Her office also won a series of court rulings forcing Trump’s company and a law firm it hired to turn over troves of records.