Former President Donald Trump and his two eldest children must testify in an investigation into his business practices, a judge ruled on Thursday.
Trump must turn over documents within the next two weeks, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled.
He, Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump must also appear for depositions within 21 days — though it’s likely Trump will appeal the ruling.
The Trump family has been fighting to stop the subpoenas for their sworn testimony. They claim that New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office is targeting the former president for political reasons and to help boost James’ career.
James has said her investigation has uncovered evidence that Trump’s company used ‘fradulent or misleading’ valuations of assets like golf courses and skyscrapers to get loans and tax benefits.
She asked the court to compel compliance with her subpoenas, which include a request for records she says Trump has not yet handed over.
Engoron issued the ruling after a two-hour hearing with lawyers for the Trumps and James’ office.
‘In the final analysis, a State Attorney General commences investigating a business entity, uncovers copious evidence of possible financial fraud, and wants to question, under oath, several of the entities’ principals, including its namesake. She has the clear right to do so.’ Engoron wrote in his decision.
Looking to quash the subpoenas, the Trumps’ attorneys argued that if James wants their testimony, she should bring them before a grand jury where they could be granted immunity.
‘If she wants sworn testimony from my client, he’s entitled to immunity. He gets immunity for what he says, or he says nothing,’ Trump’s criminal defense lawyer, Ronald Fischetti, said.
If the former president testified in the civil probe, anything he says could be used against him in the ongoing criminal investigation being conduced by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
Both the Manhattan DA and New York AG are investigating whether Trump inflated the value of his holdings in order to secure loans, and deflated values in order to reduce taxes.
He could invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, but if he did, he could hurt a potential criminal defense, his attorney said during the hearing.
Another one of his sons, Eric Trump, has previously sat for depositions in the civil investigation, where he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights hundreds of times.