Trump to face sworn deposition in New York lawsuit as legal troubles mount

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The Guardian

The New York attorney general’s office is expected to begin questioning Donald Trump and two of his children over allegations of financial fraud today after the former president failed in his legal bid to block what he has called a politically motivated “witch hunt”.

Trump and his two eldest children, Ivanka and Donald Jr, were summoned to give sworn depositions after state attorney general, Letitia James, said a three-year civil investigation uncovered evidence that the Trump Organization routinely inflated the value of properties, including office blocks, apartment buildings and golf courses, in order to obtain loans at favorable rates and to claim tax breaks.

The AG’s office alleges that the former president’s Trump Tower apartment block was recorded as being three times as large as it really was as part of the fraud.

The process of taking depositions at the state supreme court in Manhattan is expected to continue into next week. It is not immediately clear on which day the former president will be questioned but Trump’s lawyer has indicated that he will invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination and refuse to answer questions.

The case adds to a string of legal troubles for Trump, including the possibility of criminal charges for tax evasion. The Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, are expected to go on trial later this year on charges of tax fraud following a parallel investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

A view of Trump Tower in New York. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

In addition, the House committee investigating the January 6 storming of the Capitol has said there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the former president and some of his allies committed crimes in his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Prosecutors in Atlanta, Georgia, have convened a grand jury to consider whether Trump broke state law in trying to stop election authorities declaring that Joe Biden won the state. Earlier this month the grand jury subpoenaed US Senator Lindsey Graham and Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani as part of the criminal investigation.

The Trump Organization also faces a trial later this month over an assault by its security guards on protesters against the then presidential candidate’s racist attack on Mexicans in 2015. Trump has denied ordering the assault.

Trump lost a series of court cases that attempted to quash the New York civil investigation as politically driven and then to avoid testifying.

A lawyer for the attorney general’s office told a judge there is enough evidence to support legal action against the former president and his company but that no decision has been taken on prosecutions. If James presses ahead with the case and wins, she could seek an order winding up the Trump Organization.

Trump and all three of his children have also been summoned to give depositions next month in a class action lawsuit brought by people who say they were tricked into investing in companies Trump was paid to endorse on his programme, Celebrity Apprentice. “The Trumps conned each of these victims into giving up hundreds or thousands of dollars – losses that many experienced as devastating and life-altering,” the lawsuit claims.

July 15, 2022 at 01:27PM Chris McGreal

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