Donald Trump, Ivanka and Don Jr. must testify in Letitia James’ probe: judge
By Priscilla DeGregory
February 17, 2022 3:08pm
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Donald Trump and his kids Ivanka and Donald Jr. must testify in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into the Trump Organization’s business dealings, a Manhattan judge ruled Thursday.
The Trump family trio has been fighting to quash the subpoenas for their sworn testimony, arguing that James’ office is targeting the former president for “selective prosecution” for political reasons and to bolster her career.
Trump’s camp says the AG’s office will use the depositions from the family members to aid a parallel criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the AG’s Office, rather than calling the family members before a grand jury — which would give them immunity from civil claims involving the same facts.
But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron denied the motions to quash the subpoenas in a decision Thursday afternoon and said the three Trump family members must appear for depositions within 21 days.
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“Let’s say your clients are compelled … to appear for a deposition,” Engoron asked the lawyers for the Trumps. “Can’t they refuse to answer?”
“Isn’t that what Eric Trump did 500 times? Why can’t your clients protect themselves by refusing to answer questions?” Engoron said, referring to Eric Trump having already been deposed in the case.
But lawyers for the Trumps responded that a judge or jury could then draw an “adverse inference” at trial against them for choosing not to answer questions.
Ronald Fischetti, a criminal defense lawyer for Donald Trump, responded, “If he takes the Fifth, how am I going to pick a jury if it’s all over town?”
“You can’t put your civil hat on and then put your criminal district attorney hat on when it suits you,” Trump’s civil lawyer Alina Habba said.
“The civil and criminal actions involve the same subject material,” Habba said. “You’re putting my client in a position where they disclose evidence in a civil investigation or they have to invoke their rights and have an adverse inference. How is that fair, your honor?”
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I’m not a fan of any politician or bureaucrat. But this is obviously unfair.
The prosecutor should be forced to adjudicate the personal criminal case BEFORE getting to try the civil case.
Anything less is unfair to ANY defendant.