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NY Judge Orders Attorneys to Explain Why Trump Org. and Eric Trump Are Immune to Subpoenas

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NY Judge Orders Attorneys to Explain Why Trump Org. and Eric Trump Are Immune to Subpoenas

2020-09-04 18:56:37

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Eric Trump (Image source: Students for Trump via Wikimedia Commons)

While Donald Trump is busy dragging his case from court to court, trying to find a judge to agree with him that he is immune from criminal cases, attorneys for his son, Eric Trump, and the Trump Organization were ordered to appear before a New York judge later this month to explain why the business and Eric Trump believe they are they're immune to subpoenas.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating whether the Trump Organization incorrectly valued some of its real estate assets on annual financial statements. These were used to obtain loans and to get tax benefits.

This is separate from Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s investigation. He's pursuing Donald Trump's financial records for a criminal investigation. James is pursuing a civil case against Eric Trump and the business.

The state attorney general is requesting that Eric Trump testify in the investigation and is asking for documents related to the properties. Eric Trump was scheduled to be interviewed by investigators in July but "now refuses to appear."

Judge Arthur Engoron, of state Supreme Court in Manhattan, ordered attorneys for Eric Trump and the Trump Organization to show cause and ordered them to appear in court on September 23 to explain why they feel they don't have to comply with James's subpoenas.

James's court filings about the subpoenas went public on August 24. Eric Trump accused her via Twitter of "the highest level of prosecutorial misconduct" and of "purposely" doing this to coincide with the Republican National Convention "for political points."

Alan Garten, a Trump Organization spokesman, said in a statement the same day that the case is "simply a discovery dispute over documents and the like."

Before Engoron was assigned to the case, it was assigned to Debra James. She recused herself from the case after Attorney General James filed. In a court filing, Judge James said she had determined "that she must recuse herself." She left no explanation.

Attorney General James began the investigation into the Trump Organization in 2019 after Donald Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, testified before Congress. She said he'd testified that "Trump's annual financial statements inflated the values of Trump's assets to obtain favorable terms for loans and insurance coverage, while also deflating the value of other assets to reduce real estate taxes."

One of the properties James is focusing on is the 212-acre Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County, New York. Different valuations were given for the property to claim a deduction of more than $21 million for donating a conservation easement on it in 2015.

James's office said in a statement that it was also looking into a property at 40 Wall St. in Manhattan, the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago, and the Trump National Golf Club — Los Angeles.

Last month James said in a statement, "Nothing will stop us from following the facts and the law, wherever they may lead. For months, the Trump Organization has made baseless claims in an effort to shield evidence from a lawful investigation into its financial dealings."

"They have stalled, withheld documents, and instructed witnesses, including Eric Trump, to refuse to answer questions under oath," she added. 

Between this investigation and the one being pursued by Vance, it's all attention Donald Trump isn't looking for this close to the election.

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