WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump will be heard under oath on Wednesday The Attorney General of New York’s long-running civil investigation into his business as a real estate mogul, he confirmed in a post on his Truth Social account.
Trump’s testimony comes amid a flurry of legal activity surrounding him, coming just days later FBI agents searched his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida as part of an independent federal investigation into whether he took classified recordings leaving the White House.
The New York civil investigation, led by Attorney General Letitia James, includes allegations that Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misrepresented the value of valuable assets such as golf courses and skyscrapers, misleading lenders and tax authorities.
“Tonight in New York City. Seeing the racist NYS Attorney General tomorrow for a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in US history!” Trump wrote on Truth Social, citing his oft-repeated claims about James being black and the investigation.
“My great company and myself are being attacked from all sides,” Trump added. “Banana Republic!”
Messages were left at James’ office and at Trump’s attorney for comment.
Trump’s testimony comes at a critical juncture in James’ investigation, in the middle of a pivotal week in his post-presidency.
In May, James’ office said it was nearing the end of its investigation and that investigators had amassed substantial evidence that could support legal action, such as a lawsuit against Trump, his company, or both.
The Republican billionaire’s testimony — a legal term for an affidavit that will not be made in court — is one of the few remaining missing pieces, the attorney general’s office said.
Two of Trump’s adult children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, have testified in the investigation in recent days, two people familiar with the matter said. People were not allowed to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.
The Trumps’ testimony was originally scheduled for last month but was canceled following the deaths of the former president’s ex-wife Ivana Trump, Ivanka Donald Jr.’s mother, and another son, Eric Trump, who was sitting for testimony. rescheduled into James’ investigation in 2020 on July 14.
On Friday, the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg will appear in court Tax fraud charges against her dismissed last year in the Manhattan District Attorney’s parallel criminal investigation.
James, a Democrat, said in court filings that her office uncovered “significant” evidence that Trump’s company “used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a variety of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage and tax deductions.”
James claims the Trump Organization has exaggerated the value of its holdings to impress lenders or misstated the value of land to lower its tax burden, citing financial statements given to banks to secure favorable credit conditions and on financial magazines to justify Trump’s place among world leaders billionaires.
The company has even exaggerated the size of Trump’s Manhattan penthouse, saying it’s nearly three times larger than it actually is — a difference in value of about $200 million, James’s office said.
Trump has denied the allegations, saying that looking for the best reviews is a common practice in the real estate industry. He says James’s investigation is part of a politically motivated “witch hunt” and that her office “is doing everything within its corrupt discretion to interfere with my business dealings and the political process.”
“THERE IS NO CASE!” Trump said in a February statement after Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that James’ office had “the clear right” to question Trump and other senior executives at his company.
While James has been attempting to sue Trump or his company, Manhattan prosecutors have long been pursuing a parallel criminal investigation.
That investigation appeared to be moving toward a possible indictment, but slowed after a new district attorney, Alvin Bragg, took office in January.
A grand jury that had heard evidence was dissolved. The chief prosecutor who handled the investigation resigned after Bragg raised questions internally about the viability of the case.
Bragg has said his investigation is continuing, meaning Trump could invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refusing to answer questions from James’ investigators.
According to the subpoena issued by James’ office, Trump was to appear in person at the attorney general’s office, located in a Manhattan office tower that doubled as the headquarters of the fictional conglomerate Waystar Royco in HBO’s Succession.
As vocal as Trump has been in written statements and on stage at the rally, legal experts say the same strategy could backfire in testimony because anything he says could potentially be used against him or his company in the criminal investigation . No past president has been charged with a single crime.
In fighting the subpoenas, the Trumps’ attorneys argued that New York authorities used the civil investigation to obtain information for the criminal investigation and that the statements were a ruse to avoid being summoned before a criminal grand jury immunity provided where required by state law.
Last summer, spurred on by evidence uncovered by James’ office, the Manhattan Attorney’s Office pressed charges against Weisselberg and the Trump Organization. Prosecutors said Weisselberg collected more than $1.7 million in unscheduled damages.
Weisselberg and the company have pleaded not guilty.
According to court documents, Weisselberg and Eric Trump each invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 500 times when questioned by James’ attorneys during separate testimonies in 2020.
The former president could choose to do the same, but it’s likely “he claims to have a lack of knowledge on many issues,” said New York University law professor Stephen Gillers.
That could be a winning strategy since Trump is better known as the “big picture guy,” Gillers said. “So he’s going to answer the big questions and those answers will be general enough to keep him out of trouble, or so his attorneys are hoping.”
“On the other hand, his impetuosity makes him a lawyer’s nightmare, and his overconfidence can lead him astray. Whoever questions him will encourage that,” the professor added.
Once their investigation is complete, James could decide to file a lawsuit, demanding fines against Trump or his company, or even a ban on involvement in certain types of companies.
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.
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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/08/10/trump-says-hes-testifying-wednesday-in-ny-investigation/ Trump says he will testify in New York investigations on Wednesday