N.Y. Attorney General Asks Judge to Order Eric Trump’s Testimony

Gun Rights

The New York State attorney general’s office has stepped up its inquiry into whether President Trump and the Trump Organization committed fraud by overstating assets to get bank loans, asking a judge to order Eric Trump to answer questions under oath and the company to hand over documents, court papers show.

Mr. Trump, who is President Trump’s son and an executive vice president of the company, abruptly canceled an interview with the attorney general’s office last month, and last week the Trump Organization told the office that the company and its lawyers would not comply with seven subpoenas related to the investigation.

The filings were made last week in State Supreme Court in Manhattan by the attorney general, Letitia James, and became public on Monday. They come as President Trump faces legal actions on other fronts. The Manhattan district attorney’s office has suggested in court filings that it is investigating possible bank and insurance fraud by the president and the Trump Organization.

The attorney general’s office started the civil inquiry in March 2019 after President Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, told Congress that the president had inflated his assets in financial statements to banks when he was seeking loans and had understated them to reduce his real estate taxes.

You Might Like

The office initially subpoenaed records from two of the Trump Organization’s lenders, Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank, seeking loan records for four of the company’s big projects and a failed effort to buy the Buffalo Bills of the N.F.L. in 2014.

The Trump Organization at first provided some information and sought to forestall the attorney general from seeking a similar court order eight months ago, after the company failed to turn over information on a particular property.

But more recently, the attorney general’s office said, the Trump Organization had stalled and stonewalled, according to the filings, some of which were sealed.

The Trump Organization’s chief legal officer, Alan Garten, said in a statement that the company had done nothing wrong and had “tried to cooperate in good faith with the investigation at every turn.” He pointed out that Ms. James’s filing said the state had made “no determination that anything was improper.”

Mr. Garten accused the attorney general of “continued harassment of the company as we approach the election” and said the timing of motion, coming just before the Republican National Convention, “once again confirms that this investigation is all about politics.”

The White House declined to comment. President Trump has complained about Ms. James and her predecessors for years, saying he is the victim of politically motivated investigations.

The investigation is reviewing a number of Trump properties, including several that were raised in Mr. Cohen’s congressional testimony. The Seven Springs estate in Westchester County, N.Y., the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, 40 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan and the Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles were the subject of the subpoenas.

The attorney general’s office has also asked the judge to order two lawyers to sit for interviews under oath: Charles Martabano, a land-use lawyer who does work for the Trump Organization, and Sheri A. Dillon, who has represented President Trump and his company on tax matters.

The office also asked the judge to order Ms. Dillon’s firm — Morgan, Lewis & Bockius — to comply with a subpoena, along with the Trump Organization, two related entities that own Trump properties, and Seven Springs LLC, which owns the Westchester County estate.

While the inquiry is civil, if Ms. James found evidence of criminal offenses, she could refer the case to another law enforcement agency or ask Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York to authorize a criminal prosecution.

The investigation began after Mr. Cohen told the House Committee on Oversight and Reform last year that President Trump had knowingly inflated the value of his assets to show a net worth of as much as $8.7 billion in financial documents, many of which were provided to Deutsche Bank.

“I believe these numbers are inflated,” Mr. Cohen said at the time, adding that he had been present when the documents were given to the bank.

“It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” Mr. Cohen said in his testimony.

Last month, the United States Supreme Court issued two rulings that cleared the way for state prosecutors in Manhattan to seek the president’s tax returns, but thwarted congressional attempts to obtain the financial records, at least for now.

Mr. Trump and the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., continue to spar in court over the records.

Ms. James started her office’s inquiry in 2019, after months of promising that she would aggressively investigate Mr. Trump. Months earlier, she had listed herself among possible legal headaches for the president, along with Mr. Cohen and Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who was looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“The president of the United States has to worry about three things: Mueller, Cohen and Tish James,” she said.

The New York State attorney general’s office has brought about the dissolution of the Trump Foundation, Mr. Trump’s scandal plagued nonprofit. Ms. James also announced this month that she was seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association, which is chartered in New York and one of the president’s staunchest allies.

Last year, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that Mr. Cuomo “uses his Attorney General as a bludgeoning tool for his own purposes,” even though Ms. James is an independently elected official and not the governor’s appointee.

Ms. James replied by tweeting that she had “a sworn duty to protect & uphold state law,” adding, “P.S. My name is Letitia James. (You can call me Tish.)”

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

You Might Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *