New York Attorney General Tish James on Tuesday night moved to force former President Donald Trump and his two elder children to comply with her probe of the Trump Organization’s finances.
James’ office filed the court papers in response to the Trumps’ attempts to avoid testifying in the investigation. She argued that prosecutors are entitled to documents and sworn testimony from Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump.
She asked a judge to order the Trumps’ compliance with her previous subpoenas and deny the family’s motion to quash them.
“No one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them,” James tweeted, adding that the three Trumps “have all been closely involved” in some Trump Organization transactions that, according to the attorney general, “used fraudulent and misleading asset valuations on multiple properties to obtain economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions for years.”
This is the first time the New York attorney general’s office has laid out specific and detailed allegations of fraud against the company. Her inquiry is running alongside ongoing criminal proceedings overseen by the Manhattan district attorney.
Court filings cite former President Trump’s apartment valuations, which jumped 64 percent within a single year after he claimed the triplex was 30,000 square feet despite signing documents saying it was 10,996 square feet, as just one part of a larger pattern where he may have fraudulently exaggerated his net worth.
James’ office goes on to present examples of six allegedly overvalued Trump properties, like the Trump Organization’s Seven Springs estate in New York, which jumped from a purchase value of $7.5 million in 1995 to a stated value of $291 million in 2014, as well as foreign establishments like the Trump International Golf Club in Scotland.
James also detailed alleged misrepresentations the organization made to banks, insurers and other parties that obscured Trump’s real finances and assets and would have factored into his loans. Trump himself was “personally involved in reviewing and approving the statements of financial condition before their issuance,” James said, including in transactions that personally benefited him.
The documents listed reasons why Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. would be also compelled to testify based on their relationships with the former president and their roles in the Trump Organization’s finances.
“We will not be deterred in our efforts to continue this investigation, uncover the facts, and pursue justice, no matter how many roadblocks Mr. Trump and his family throw in our way,” James said.
On Wednesday morning, Eric Trump, one of the former president’s sons, tweeted that the attorney general’s investigation was nothing “more than a PR move to revive a political career after your gubernatorial disaster,” posting compilations of old videos where James promised to take legal action against the former president once he became a private citizen. James recently withdrew from this year’s race for governor in New York, choosing to run for reelection to her current post instead.
James has also argued that the New York County district attorney’s potential parallel investigation into the Trumps “is neither unusual nor a sufficient ground for Respondents to avoid sitting for testimony. Nor does the participation of attorneys from [the New York attorney general’s office] in any separate criminal investigation provide a basis for the Court to quash properly issued subpoenas.”
Former President Trump sued James last month in a bid to thwart her ongoing investigations into his business practices. Earlier in January, she subpoenaed Donald Jr. and Ivanka Trump. Previously, former President Trump and others have cooperated with the investigations, court filings read, meaning the motion to not speak after receiving subpoenas “is something of an about-face for them.”
James’ office hasn’t decided whether evidence it has obtained so far in the civil investigation merits legal action.