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New York attorney general subpoenas Trump for testimony in civil fraud investigation


By Kara Scannell and Sonia Moghe, CNN

The New York attorney general subpoenaed former President Donald Trump for his testimony as part of a civil fraud investigation into the Trump Organization, according to people familiar with the matter.

Letitia James, the New York attorney general, has set a deadline for the deposition by January 7, Trump’s lawyer Ronald Fischetti told CNN.

Fischetti said he will be filing a motion to quash the subpoena.

The attorney general’s office is investigating whether the Trump Organization manipulated the value of its properties, including golf courses, hotels and condo buildings. They are working with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office on a parallel criminal investigation into the Trump Organization. The two investigations are separate, but some attorneys from James’ office have been designated to work on the criminal investigation, which is ongoing.

The deposition sought by James “is not part of the criminal investigation,” said Danny Frost, a spokesman for Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan District Attorney.

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization said in a statement: “This is another political witch-hunt.”

“New York is being overrun by violence, children are being shot in Times Square, arsonists are setting Christmas decorations ablaze and homelessness is through the roof, yet the only focus of the New York AG is to investigate Trump, all for her own political ambitions as she attempts to run for Governor. This political persecution is illegal, unethical and is a travesty to our great state and legal system,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesman for James’ office declined to comment.

James, who said in October she would run for governor of New York before suspending her campaign Thursday, could file a civil lawsuit against Trump or the Trump Organization if she finds civil wrongdoing.

The timing of the subpoena for Trump’s testimony comes at a critical time for the criminal investigation.

Vance did not run for reelection and his term ends at the end of the month. It is unclear whether the district attorney’s office will make any decisions as to whether to bring criminal charges in their investigation, which is focusing on the same issues as the civil investigation, or hand it off to the incoming district attorney, Alvin Bragg.

Fischetti, Trump’s attorney, said there is a “conflict” with James’ involvement in both the civil and criminal investigations. He said Trump has sat for many depositions over the years and the office could review any one of them.

Since Trump is facing a criminal investigation, the risks of testifying would be high. If compelled to testify in the civil inquiry, the judge or jury could make an adverse inference in weighing his liability. Unlike in a criminal case, Trump would not have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The Washington Post first reported James’ request to depose Trump.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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