Eric Trump cannot delay testimony in New York probe, judge rules

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York judge on Wednesday ordered President Donald Trump’s son Eric to make himself available by Oct. 7 to be interviewed under oath for a state probe into financing for properties owned by his family’s company.

FILE PHOTO: Eric Trump, the son of U.S. President Donald Trump, delivers a pre-recorded speech to the largely virtual Republican National Convention broadcast from the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, U.S., August 25, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Justice Arthur Engoron of the Manhattan Supreme Court said Eric Trump, an executive vice president at the Trump Organization, offered no grounds for delaying his deposition by the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James until after the Nov. 3 presidential election.

At a hearing, the judge rejected as unpersuasive an argument that Trump, as a “vital and integral part” of his father’s re-election bid, was too busy to be interviewed, and said he was not “bound by the timelines of the national election.”

Lawyers for Eric Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

James has been conducting a civil probe into “potential fraud or illegality” concerning whether Donald Trump and the Trump Organization overstated the value of assets to obtain loans and tax benefits.

Her probe began after Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen told Congress the president had inflated some asset values to save money on loans and insurance, and deflated other asset values to reduce real estate taxes.

James originally subpoenaed Eric Trump’s testimony on May 26. A scheduled July 22 deposition was canceled as Trump changed his legal team, and his new lawyers sought a further delay until Nov. 19 or later.

Matthew Colangelo, a lawyer for James, said the threat of “personal inconvenience” to Eric Trump did not justify that long a wait.

“Mr. Trump shouldn’t be able to profit from his own dilatory conduct,” Colangelo said.

James’ probe has focused on four properties: the Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County, New York; 40 Wall Street in Manhattan; the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, and the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles.

There has been no determination any laws have been broken.

The investigation is separate from a criminal probe by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who is seeking eight years of Donald Trump’s tax returns through a separate subpoena.

Vance has said in court filings he might have grounds to investigate Donald Trump and the Trump Organization for tax fraud, and that his probe related to reports of possible insurance and bank fraud by the company and its officers.

A federal appeals court is scheduled to hear Trump’s appeal on Friday of an order letting Vance obtain his tax returns.

Trump is a Republican, while James and Vance are Democrats.

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