On Wednesday, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that Eric Trump must testify before Election Day as part of an investigation into the Trump family business that New York Attorney General Letitia James is conducting. She is investigating whether the Trump Organization artificially inflated the values of properties in its portfolio in order to obtain benefits like loans and tax breaks. Eric, who has been one of the top executives at the family business during his father’s presidency, originally agreed to testify this past summer. After backing out, he said he’d testify — but only after Election Day. Engoron’s ruling demands his testimony by October 7.
As CNBC reports, last month, James “had filed an action with the court seeking Eric Trump’s compliance with the subpoena after she said he reneged on an agreement to testify this summer. She “also sought to force compliance with subpoenas seeking documentation and testimony related to several Trump properties,” the outlet adds.
During a Wednesday hearing, attorney Matthew Colangelo, who was arguing on the side of James’s office, insisted that under no circumstance should Eric get to further delay his testimony on a whim after stringing prosecutors along for months on end. Colangelo said:
‘We simply can’t delay compliance for another two months… Mr. Trump is asking for a further two-month delay … to the middle of November in response to a subpoena that was served in May and where the parties agreed in early June on a date for his attendance… Mr. Trump shouldn’t be able to profit from his own dilatory conduct here.’
This situation is, of course, not the first time that a member of the Trump family has stonewalled investigative efforts. The Trump White House has almost completely closed itself off to Congressional inquiry, at least on the part of the Democrat-led House, although there are occasional — and rare — breakthroughs. Trump consistently refers to investigations into himself and his associates as “witch hunts.” Outside of D.C., Donald has ranted against authorities in New York in particular, where Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is conducting a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization’s potential financial crimes, in addition to James’s civil investigation.
The issues that James is looking into are rather huge — for example, valuations of a New York property called Seven Springs Estate were used to claim an apparent tax deduction of more than $21 million for the Trump Organization. In 2012, the Trump Organization valued the property at more than $290 million – but two years later, Forbes magazine said the value was less than $19.5 million. That’s a huge difference, and it represents an instance of possible glaring fraud.
Besides this case, New York’s Attorney General Letitia James has also confronted the Trumps on a range of other issues. Just recently, she pledged to fight the Trump administration in court over their designation of New York City as a supposed “anarchist jurisdiction,” a ridiculous designation that they have plotted to use as a potential excuse for denying federal funds to the city. Trump has consistently tried to use the federal government to go after his political opponents.