Trump to testify ‘on one condition’
Former US President Donald Trump and two of his children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, have been ordered to comply with previous subpoenas issued for their testimonies in New York state’s civil investigation into the Trump Organization.
New York State Judge Arthur Engoron ruled on Thursday that the Trumps have 21 days to comply with the subpoenas from New York Attorney General Letitia James. The judge’s ruling came after two hours of testimony from the state and Trump’s lawyers, and he ultimately favored the state, saying James has the “clear right” to call for depositions of the Trump family.
James claims her investigation has found evidence that Trump’s company used “fraudulent or misleading” valuations of its assets in order to take advantage of tax loopholes and secure loans. The attorney general’s civil investigation was opened in 2019 following testimony from former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. One of the former president’s sons, Eric Trump, was previously ordered to testify, invoking his Fifth Amendment right hundreds of times.
Whether the former president will testify remains a mystery, as his lawyers have argued he will only do so on one condition.
“If she wants sworn testimony from my client, he’s entitled to immunity. He gets immunity for what he says, or he says nothing,” Trump’s criminal defense lawyer, Ronald Fischetti, said at Thursday’s hearing.
Trump’s legal team has argued that he can not be compelled to testify for a civil investigation when there is also an ongoing criminal investigation into his business unless he is offered immunity.
Without immunity, Fischetti said his advice would be for his client to remain silent and plead the fifth, which would then be national news, making picking a jury for a potential criminal trial near impossible.
Trump’s team argued that calling Trump and his children for depositions is a strategy to aid the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s criminal investigation, rather than ordering them in front of a grand jury, which would grant them immunity in their testimony.
Trump’s team has previously argued James’ investigation is politically motivated and the former president is the victim of “selective prosecution.”