Eric Trump must testify in a New York state investigation into the financial affairs of his father President Trump and his businesses before the election, a judge ruled Wednesday, rejecting his attorney’s claims that his “extreme travel schedule” and “related unavailability” on the campaign trail warrant a delay.
New York Supreme Court judge Arthur Engoron said Eric Trump, who is executive vice president of the Trump Organization, must comply with a subpoena for his testimony no later than Oct. 7, adding that the investigation and the court are not “bound by the timelines of the national election.”
Eric Trump’s lawyers had argued that he “has been, and continues to be, willing to appear pursuant to subpoena” and said he would appear after the election “to avoid the use of his deposition attendance for political reasons” until then, according to last Thursday’s court filing.
At the hearing Wednesday, Eric Trump’s lawyer Alan Futerfas said they were “happy for him to sit down and be deposed,” but they needed more time before he testifies to review the thousands of pages of documents that the attorney general’s office is seeking as part of the investigation.
Matthew Colangelo, a lawyer for the attorney general’s office, asserted that Eric Trump’s lawyers didn’t have a legal basis for the delay and were doing so “simply on the grounds of personal inconvenience to the witness,” adding that the courts have found that five days is a reasonable amount of time to comply.
New York Attorney General Letitia James opened a civil investigation into President Trump and the Trump Organization in March 2019, alleging 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,” according to an August statement.
She has claimed that Eric Trump was scheduled for an interview in July but refused to appear and said “for months, the Trump Organization has made baseless claims in an effort to shield evidence from a lawful investigation into its financial dealings.”
James filed a motion in August to compel testimony and documents in New York County State Supreme Court, including from Eric Trump, who she claimed was “intimately involved in one or more transactions under review, as well as the production of thousands of documents wrongly withheld” and was refusing to comply. Eric Trump’s lawyers pushed back in the filing Thursday, saying he was properly asserting his client-attorney privilege and argued he never implied he would not comply with the subpoena, but that the Attorney General’s Office never responded to their request that it will not share documents or testimony obtained in the investigation with other law enforcement or regulatory agencies.
Eric Trump has been campaigning for his father and spoke at the Republican National Convention last month. He is scheduled to host multiple campaign events for his father prior to the election. He did not appear at the Wednesday hearing, which was held virtually via Skype.
Judge: Eric Trump must testify in NY probe before election (Associated Press)