Ivanka and Don Jr., two of former President Donald Trump’s adult children, were recently questioned amid the sprawling civil investigation by New York state Attorney General Letitia James into the Trump Organization’s financial dealings.
That long-running investigation hinges on issues including the potentially deceptive valuations for assets at the Trump company, with those valuations poised to help secure unearned financial benefits like tax breaks for the Trump Organization. Ivanka and Don Jr. were questioned after the Trumps’ lost a multi-stage attempt to stop their depositions. According to a report from CNN, Ivanka’s private testimony in the James investigation took place on Wednesday, and Don Jr.’s was last Thursday. Per info obtained by CNN, Don Jr. was at least somewhat forthcoming in his interactions with investigators. According to the outlet’s recap of a source’s revelations, Don Jr. “did not assert the Fifth Amendment and answered the state’s questions.”
CNN didn’t include additional, specific details about the questions Don Jr. was asked. Donald Trump himself is slated for questioning as the James investigation moves forward. “We have uncovered significant evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent and misleading asset valuations on multiple properties to obtain economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions for years,” James previously stated on Twitter. Among other examples of apparent financial misconduct, the Trump company utilized what James’s team called “fraudulent or misleading” valuations for conservation easements at Trump properties in Los Angeles County, California and Westchester County, New York. In another instance previously highlighted by James’s team, Cushman & Wakefield — a real estate services firm that worked with the Trump Organization on key initiatives — produced dramatically varying valuations for the same New York property within the span of several years.
The valuations, which covered a location in Manhattan called 40 Wall Street, were hundreds of millions of dollars apart. The highest valuation cited by the attorney general’s team was for a financing company, which meant the numbers could’ve made the Trump company seem significantly better off in financial terms than it actually was. “That appraisal was used by the Trump Organization to secure a loan,” James’s team stated. As for Don Jr.’s testimony, CNN notes that in a civil case a jury can hold it against someone if they declined to answer questions for some reason. According to a source in touch with CNN, there were also behind-the-scenes concerns about the potential political ramifications of invoking the Fifth Amendment. Trump Jr. personally attested to the accuracy of company financial statements since 2017, meaning deceptive representations in these docs could personally implicate him.
Other current and former executives and employees at the Trump Organization, where Don Jr. currently serves in a top leadership position, were already interviewed amid the James probe. Donald Trump Jr. also spoke with the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, as did Ivanka, who — unlike her brother — was in an official position at the Trump White House at the time of the riot and throughout their father’s presidency. The panel’s repeatedly showcased clips from Ivanka’s testimony in their public proceedings. Because it’s civil in nature, the James investigation isn’t poised to lead to criminal charges. However, it could result in financial penalties for the Trump company if James prevails at a potential future trial.