New York judges force Donald and Ivanka Trump to sit down for deposition in civil fraud case – Mother Jones
A New York appeals court on Thursday gave Donald Trump another blow when it ruled that the former president and his daughter must support sworn deposition in the New York civil fraud investigation of the family business. New York State Attorney General Letitia James sued Donald and Ivanka Trump in December, but Trump’s lawyers argued they shouldn’t have done so because, they said, James’s entire investigation was groundless and politically motivated. Arthur Engoron, the lower court judge dealing with the case, disagrees, write in his decision that there was indeed “abundant evidence” that the Trumps might have committed fraud and no evidence that James’s investigation was motivated by improper political bias.
In Thursday’s ruling, four appellate judges from the First Department of the New York Supreme Court agreed with Engoron’s assessment, writing that the Trumps did not present evidence of politically motivated persecution or selective prosecution.
During the February oral arguments, Trump’s attorneys seemed far more focused on appealing to public perception than on convincing Engoron. At one point, Alina Habba, Donald Trump’s personal attorney in the case, complained that James refused to go after Trump’s presidential rival in 2016.
“Will you go after Hillary Clinton for what she’s doing to my client, who spied on Trump Tower in your state?” Habba asked to know. “Do you want to look into your business?”
In his own public statements, Trump did so complained that James, who is Black, is one of the many “radical, vicious and racist prosecutors” investigating him. In court, Habba said the investigation concerned “point of view discrimination”, but the appellate judges were absolutely not convinced. To successfully support the argument that you were illegally chosen to investigate, you must prove that someone else is not being investigated for a similar crime when they should, and the judicial panel concluded – arguments about Hillary Clinton aside – that the Trumps. ” have not identified any similarly implicated company that has not been investigated or any director of that company that has not been filed. “
A Trump representative did not return a request for comment on the appeals court ruling.
Despite Thursday’s win, James may not get much from the interviews. Donald and Ivanka Trump still have the right to refuse to answer questions about whether they could indict themselves in this way. Last year, Eric Trump sat down for a deposition with James investigators and refused to answer more than 500 questions.
Trump’s appeal, and subsequent rejection by a higher court, are part of a familiar pattern in James’ investigation, which was has been going on for more than two years and slowly but steadily approached the former president. After initially partnering with investigators in the early months of the investigation, the Trump family’s attorneys became increasingly combative, but achieved little or no victory in their efforts to stop James from investigating further. Like Habba’s arguments at the February hearing, most of Donald Trump’s legal arguments seemed modeled to appeal to his own sense of indignation or intended primarily for public consumption.
Last month, Donald Trump was scorned for refusing to hand over the documents James sued in December, despite Engoron’s repeated rulings that Trump must abide by. Eventually Engoron finished finish Trump $ 10,000 a day until he cooperated. Trump eventually amassed $ 110,000 in fines to pay to James before he was able to convince Engoron that everything that should have been handed over to James had been. The same appeals court that dismissed Trump’s deposition arguments Thursday is also considering Trump’s efforts to overturn the $ 10,000 fines. But last week, Trump it forked over $ 110,000 be held in an escrow account until the appeal is resolved.