Donald Trump just lost another round in his fight against New York Attorney General Letitia James, who’s investigating allegedly shady practices inside his Trump Organization family business.
A New York judge on Thursday slapped down Trump’s latest attempt to avoid accountability, ruling that James can question Trump, his son Donald Jr. and daughter, Ivanka, who doubled as execs in the company, under oath. Trump tried, and failed, in federal court back in December to end James’ investigation altogether but it’s still going strong.
They’re now under the gun for a deposition with James in the next three weeks, unless they appeal–which will definitely happen.
“In the final analysis, a State Attorney General commences investigating a business entity, uncovers copious evidence of possible financial fraud, and wants to question, under oath, several of the entities’ principals, including its namesake. She has the clear right to do so,” [Judge Arthur] Engoron wrote in his decision.
The ruling puts Trump and his kids under even more intense legal pressure. James’ investigation is strictly civil, meaning her office can sue Trump or his businesses but not charge them with a crime. But if evidence pops up suggesting criminal activity–or if one of the Trumps lies under oath–she could refer a criminal case to the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, who is conducting a criminal investigation.
It’s check, but not checkmate: the Trumps could always fall back on the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions in a deposition like Eric Trump did last year.
Trump is under siege by Black women prosecutors in the North and the South. In addition to James’ case, in which she says she already has the goods on alleged fraud inside the Trump empire, Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis is still pursuing a potential criminal case against the ex-president for his attempts to derail the 2020 presidential election in her state.
In January, a judge granted Willis’ request for a special grand jury with subpoena power in that case, opening the possibility for numerous witnesses, or perhaps even Trump himself, to be compelled to testify under oath.