Judge Orders Trump to Sit for Deposition

Former president can appeal or plead the 5th as part of New York state investigation
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 26, 2022 12:45 PM CDT
Judge Orders Trump to Sit for Deposition
Former President Trump speaks at a rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds on April 23, 2022.   (AP Photo/Joe Maiorana, File)

(Newser) – Former President Trump must answer questions under oath in New York state’s civil investigation into his business practices, a state appeals court ruled Thursday. A four-judge panel in the appellate division of the state’s trial court upheld Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron’s Feb. 17 ruling enforcing subpoenas for Trump and his two eldest children to give deposition testimony in Attorney General Letitia James' probe, per the AP. Trump had appealed, seeking to overturn the ruling. His lawyers argued that ordering the Trumps to testify violated their constitutional rights because their answers could be used in a parallel criminal investigation.

“The existence of a criminal investigation does not preclude civil discovery of related facts, at which a party may exercise the privilege against self-incrimination,” the four-judge panel wrote, citing the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The Trumps could still appeal the ruling to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. James, a Democrat, has said her investigation has uncovered evidence Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, used “fraudulent or misleading” valuations of assets like golf courses and skyscrapers to get loans and tax benefits.

Thursday's ruling could mean a tough decision for Trump about whether to answer questions, or stay silent, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Anything Trump says in a civil deposition could be used against him in the criminal probe being overseen by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. At a hearing prior to Engoron’s Feb. 17 ruling, Trump’s lawyers argued that having him sit for a civil deposition is an improper attempt to get around a state law barring prosecutors from calling someone to testify before a criminal grand jury without giving them immunity.

(Read more Donald Trump stories.)

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