Donald Trump, children to testify under oath in real estate investigation barring court stay
The New York attorney general has been investigating the Trump Organization.
Former President Donald Trump, his eldest son and eldest daughter have agreed to sit for depositions as part of a civil investigation by the New York Attorney General's Office next month unless the state's highest court intervenes, according to a stipulation filed Wednesday.
Absent court intervention, former President Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump will appear for testimony beginning July 15, and concluding by the following week, the stipulation said.
A state appellate court ruled in May that the subpoenas for their testimony were not, as the Trumps argued, part of a politically motivated investigation into how the family valued its real estate holdings.
The stipulation gave the Trumps until Monday to file for a stay to the Court of Appeals.
The development came as the AG's office, at a hearing in the case, accused the former president of sending their investigators on a "wild goose chase" during the probe's discovery process.
"I am both frustrated and perplexed by the fact that we are where we are," said Andrew Amer of the New York AG's office at Wednesday's hearing. "The Trump Organization is a large and sophisticated real estate firm that is no stranger to litigation. I just don't understand why it has been so difficult to get basic information."
In April a judge held Trump in contempt for failing to properly respond to the attorney general's subpoena for records.
The attorney general's office is specifically seeking copies of the Trump Organization's document retention and destruction policies for each of the company's departments.
"At the end of the day, your honor, this really shouldn't be a wild goose chase to obtain what is basic information in the discovery process," Amer said.
Trump's attorney, Alina Habba, insisted that her client has already turned over six million pages of documents and said it feels like "we're being held at gun point" by investigators.
"The contempt should be purged and removed," Habba said. "Donald Trump gave you everything you needed."
Judge Arthur Engoron declined to lift the contempt order Wednesday, and set a deadline of next Friday for Trump to comply.
"I felt that a contempt order was necessary to get the respondents, particularly Mr. Trump, to comply with his obligations. I felt that because of what I considered to be some foot dragging or some misunderstandings," Engoron said. "Leaving the contempt order in place is the simplest, most effective way to get the job done."
Habba questioned whether Trump was still being held in contempt because of who he is. Engoron, however, insisted he has left anything personal out of his decisions.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has argued her office has found "significant evidence" of fraud in the investigation into how Trump and the Trump Organization valued real estate holdings in the state. The investigation is reviewing whether the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading valuations of its holdings in different ways to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage and tax deductions.
An appellate court had ruled in late May that the three members of the Trump family must sit for a deposition in the case. Trump filed an appeal on June 1.
Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
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