Donald J. Trump and two of his adult children must be under oath for questioning as part of the New York Attorney General’s civil investigation into their business practices, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.
Trump’s attorneys had argued that the Attorney General’s investigation, Letitia James, was politically motivated and that she or the children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, was not allowed to question. The attorneys also claimed that the Attorney General could not force Mr Trump to be questioned in her civil investigation because he was also the subject of a criminal investigation into some of the same business practices.
But the court ruled that the Trumps had not demonstrated that they were treated differently from other investigative targets, arguing that “the existence of a criminal investigation does not preclude the civilian discovery of related facts.”
An attorney for the Trump Organization, the former president’s family business, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The unanimous decision of a panel of four judges of the New York Supreme Court’s First Department Appeals Division upheld a decision of a lower court that Ms. James gave permission to interview Mr Trump and his children.
But the ruling does not automatically lead to an interview with Mr Trump. Attorneys for the Trumps could appeal the ruling to New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. It is not clear whether the court would hear the case.
Ms. James’s office is in the final stages of the investigation, which began more than three years ago and focused on whether Mr Trump has improperly inflated the value of his property and other assets. Last month, an attorney from her office said Ms. James was preparing to file a lawsuit against Mr. Trump in the near future. That action is likely to turn into a lawsuit.
In a filing earlier this year, Ms. James’s office said the Trump organization engaged in “fraudulent or deceptive” practices. But her lawyers added that they would need to collect additional data and testimony before making a decision on whether or not to file a lawsuit.
Since then, they have worked to obtain testimony and documents from Mr. Trump. Last month, a New York State judge, who ordered Ms. James first gave permission to question the Trump family, disdain for the former president after his lawyers failed to explain to the court that he was seeking documents relevant to the investigation. The contempt warrant was lifted earlier this month.