The Trump family is starting to strike back, with its backs against the wall due to two simultaneous tax-dodging investigations in New York.
Attorneys for former President Donald Trump and his adult children, Don Jr, and Ivanka, filed court paperwork that included copies of subpoenas and facts about the inquiry. The trio is attempting to avoid being compelled to testify under oath in a civil probe by claiming that their statements will be utilized in a separate criminal investigation that could result in them facing prison time.
“The office of the attorney general] is engaged in a criminal investigation that has an active Grand Jury. It cannot issue subpoenas for testimony under the guise of a civil investigation that will immediately become available—to its own… criminal investigation,” they said in a court filing.
Court filings made public earlier in the day showed that New York Attorney General Letitia
James had targeted the former president and his two children for refusing to help with her civil investigation into possible tax-evading and bank fraud.
Although these types of inquiries are usually kept confidential until a formal lawsuit is filed—or both parties reach an agreement—this is starting to seem like a public airing of dirty clothes.
As a result, the Trump family has taken advantage of the situation to begin leaking information regarding the AG’s investigation.
Another grand jury is investigating criminal allegations involving the Trump Organization in New York, demonstrating that the inquiry did not end with the prosecution of firm chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg last summer.
And it’s becoming evident that New York state investigators want information regarding the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago, his forested Seven Springs Estate north of New York City, and gifts to land conservation causes that could reduce his tax bill.
Investigators are also looking for records of Trump’s interactions with Forbes magazine regarding his wealth, as well as any financial documents he submitted to “insurance underwriters or insurance brokers” for asset valuation.
Ivanka Trump was scheduled for a deposition on Monday, Don Jr. on Tuesday, and former President Trump on Friday, according to the AG’s office. All of this information was revealed in copies of the subpoenas that the Trumps presented in court.
“For more than two years, members of the Trump family and the Trump Organization have continually sought to delay and impede our investigation into Donald Trump and the Trump Organization, but despite their names, they must play by the same rules as everyone else,” AG James said Monday night, “but despite their titles, they must play by the same rules as everyone else.”
Attorneys for the Trumps claim that the New York attorney general is attempting to persuade the Trumps to testify about their wildly varying real estate values so that investigators can use that information in the AG’s ongoing criminal investigation into the Trump Organization, which is being conducted in collaboration with the Manhattan district attorney.
This allegation is based on the fact that in New York, a person who testifies before a grand jury in a criminal matter enjoys immunity from the information they give, so avoiding criminal prosecution. The Trump family claim that the Attorney General is attempting to extract information from them without the benefit of immunity by “circumvent the grand jury procedural safeguards of our judicial system.”
“The subpoenas are an obvious improper tend-run around the rules,” said the Trumps’ court filing, which described the AG’s actions as an attempt to “co-mingle” the investigations. “The fact is that the [attorney general’s office] is one, singular agency running a criminal investigation. It may claim to split itself into two to avoid complying with grand jury practice, but this it cannot do.”
The Trumps also accused the Attorney General’s office of disclosing to reporters that Trump had been summoned for a deposition on January 7. Investigators wanted the former president to appear and answer questions in their New York City headquarters.
“To their credit, [AG] attorneys on this matter apologized to counsel for Mr. Trump. The leak was clearly made from the administration of the [attorney general’s office,”] Trump family attorneys added.
The Trumps want the state court judge in charge of the case to throw out the subpoenas or, at the very least, postpone their enforcement until the AG and DA finish their criminal investigation.
The court request was signed by four lawyers representing the Trumps. The former president is represented by Ronald P. Fischetti, a lawyer who has spent his career defending mobsters.
Alina Habba, who just helped him file a federal lawsuit against James. Michael T. van der Veen, who oddly sued Trump and then supported him throughout his impeachment trial, is also defending Trump. Alan S. Futerfas, a corporate lawyer, represents Trump Organization executives Don Jr. and Ivanka.