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Eric Trump Must Give NY Deposition     09/24 06:10

   

   NEW YORK (AP) -- President Donald Trump's son Eric has until Oct. 7 to speak 
to New York investigators probing his family's business practices, a judge 
ruled Wednesday, rejecting his lawyers' contention that his "extreme travel 
schedule" on the campaign trail warranted a delay until after the November 
election.

   State Judge Arthur Engoron said Eric Trump, an executive at the family's 
Trump Organization, had no legal basis to postpone a subpoena seeking his 
deposition testimony under oath, concluding that neither the probe nor the 
court were "bound by the timelines of the national election."

   New York Attorney General Letitia James went to court to enforce the 
subpoena after Eric Trump's lawyers abruptly canceled a July interview with 
investigators looking into whether the Trump Organization lied about the value 
of its assets in order to get loans or tax benefits. The investigation is 
civil, not criminal, in nature and investigators have yet to determine whether 
any law was broken.

   James, a Democrat, said Wednesday's ruling "makes clear that no one is above 
the law, not even an organization or an individual with the name Trump."

   A message seeking comment was left with Eric Trump's lawyer, Alan Futerfas.

   In a court filing last week, Eric Trump's lawyers said he was willing to 
comply with the subpoena, but could do so only after the Nov. 3 election. In 
addition to scheduling conflicts related to his father's reelection campaign, 
they said they wanted "to avoid the use of his deposition attendance for 
political purposes."

   Futerfas told Engoron they were "happy for him to sit down and be deposed" 
but needed more time to review with him thousands of pages of documents sought 
by James' office. Any deposition would happen out of public view and would 
likely remain confidential because of the ongoing investigation.

   "As the world knows, there's an election going on in about four weeks in 
this country, maybe five weeks," Futerfas told Engoron. "Eric Trump is a vital 
and integral part of that, and he's traveling just about seven days a week."

   Matthew Colangelo, a lawyer for the attorney general's office, countered 
that Eric Trump's lawyers were seeking a delay "simply on the grounds of 
personal inconvenience to the witness" rather than any legal grounds. He argued 
that courts have found a compliance deadline of just five days is reasonable.

   Eric Trump's lawyers had proposed four dates for him to testify, the 
earliest being Nov. 19. They argued that would've been just after James' office 
finished interviewing other witnesses in the investigation. Eric Trump switched 
lawyers in mid-July, Futerfas said, contributing to the need for a delay.

   Eric Trump did not participate in Wednesday's hearing, which was held via 
Skype. Eric, the third of Trump's five children, was scheduled to appear 
Wednesday at a campaign event in Glendale, Arizona, called "Evangelicals for 
Trump: Praise, Prayer, and Patriotism."

   James sought judicial intervention to compel Eric Trump and other business 
associates to testify and turn over documents as part of an investigation into 
whether the family's company, the Trump Organization, lied about the value of 
assets including a suburban New York City estate.

   James launched the investigation last year after President Trump's longtime 
personal lawyer Michael Cohen told Congress that the president had repeatedly 
inflated the value of his assets to obtain more favorable terms for loans and 
insurance coverage.

   James' investigators are looking at how the Trump Organization and its 
agents assessed the value of Seven Springs, a 212-acre (86-hectare) estate 
north of Manhattan that President Trump purchased in 1995 with the intention of 
turning it into a golf club.

   After that project failed to progress, the elder Trump granted an easement 
over 158 acres (60 hectares) to a conservation land trust in 2016 to qualify 
for an income tax deduction. James' office said a professional appraisal at the 
time determined Seven Springs was worth $56.5 million prior to the donation and 
that the land being conserved in exchange for the tax deduction was worth $21.1 
million, it said.

   Cohen told Congress that when Trump was trying to buy the NFL's Buffalo 
Bills in 2014, he provided financial statements to Deutsche Bank saying Seven 
Springs was worth $291 million as of 2012.

   The attorney general's office is also looking at a conservation easement 
donated over part of the Trump National Golf Club property near Los Angeles in 
exchange for a tax deduction in 2014, and the handling of tax issues related to 
more than $100 million of debt from the Trump International Hotel and Tower 
Chicago that was forgiven between 2010 and 2012.

   Investigators said they have not been able to confirm whether any of that 
forgiven debt was recognized as taxable income, according to the court filings.

   President Trump last year dismissed various probes into his pre-White House 
dealings, accusing James and New York's Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of 
"harassing all of my New York businesses in search of anything at all they can 
find to make me look as bad as possible."

 
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