New York AG seeks to depose Eric Trump in probe into Trump finances

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New York State Attorney General is asking court to force Eric Trump to be deposed as part of an investigation into the Trump organization.

In the court case on Monday, Letitia James’s office said Eric Trump initially agreed to sit for a deposition on July 22, then refused, “hesitating less than two days before an agreement is expected to testify.” ».

James’ office described the scope of the investigation into whether the Trump organization “inappropriately inflated the value of Mr. Trump’s assets on the financial statements in order to secure loans and secure loans. economic and fiscal advantages ”.

The Attorney General’s Office has been investigating President Donald Trump and the Trump organization since 2019, when former Trump attorney Michael Cohen told Congress that Trump’s annual financial statements inflated the value of his assets in order to ” Obtain favorable loans and insurance coverage, but deflated the value of other assets in order to reduce property taxes.

In the file, James’ office says Eric Trump’s attorney sent a letter to the attorney general saying he would use “the rights granted to every individual under the Constitution” as a justification for not testifying.

CNN has contacted an attorney for Eric Trump for comment.

Alan Garten, legal director of the Trump organization, played down the development.

“There has been no lawsuit brought by the New York attorney general,” Garten said. “It’s just a document discovery dispute and the like. As the motion documents make clear, the NY AG has not determined that anything is inappropriate or that action is pending. We will respond to this motion as appropriate. ”

James’ office is also seeking a judge to compel the testimony of other witnesses and documents.

Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump organization, testified for two days in July. Longtime Trump tax lawyer Sheri Dillon was also impeached, but the state says she declined to answer some questions.

Several financial transactions of Trump Organization properties are under investigation, including Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County, New York, 40 Wall Street, a building in Lower Manhattan, Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago, and Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles. .

The documents allege, among other things, that Trump has omitted the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago from its financial statements since 2009, and that in 2010, Fortress Credit Corporation agreed to forgive more than $ 100 million of the $ 150 million that were due on the loan, as part of a discounted loan prepayment agreement. The record indicates that the amount of money that was turned over “may have been a taxable event for the borrower,” and part of James’ investigation is to determine whether Trump included it on his tax returns.

Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor specializing in prosecuting financial crimes, said James is likely asking for the president’s tax returns as part of the investigation.

“Loan cancellation in virtually all cases should be disclosed to the IRS and state tax authorities as income, and failure to list this could be a violation of federal tax law and the law. ‘State,’ Levin said. “It certainly looks like the Attorney General is asking for Trump’s tax returns. ”

Levin said that while the Trump organization could argue that James’ office did not have the authority to request Trump’s tax returns, the Attorney General’s Office of Criminal Law Enforcement and Financial Crimes has the jurisdiction to investigate “complex financial crimes that cross county borders”.

The Attorney General’s investigation is separate from a large criminal investigation into the Trump case by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. The district attorney is waging a long legal battle to secure eight years of Trump’s financial records and personal and business income tax returns. Lawyers for the district attorney said the tax returns were essential to their investigation.

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