Eric Trump Must Testify in New York Probe Before the Election, Judge Rules

Eric Trump Must Testify in New York Probe Before the Election, Judge Rules
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, on Aug, 25, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters File Photo)

NEW YORK—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.

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

At a hearing, Engoron said Trump’s argument that he was too busy working on his father’s re-election bid was unpersuasive, 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.

Engoron also ordered the Trump Organization to turn over some financial documents James sought.

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. His new lawyers were seeking 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 waiting that long.

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

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.

In a statement, James said the judge’s order makes clear that “not even an organization or an individual with the name Trump” can dictate the parameters of her “lawful investigation.”

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.

By Jonathan Stempel