A New York appeals court Thursday denied former President Donald Trump's bid to escape a deposition in the state attorney general's probe into his business practices.
In a unanimous ruling, a panel of judges in the state Appellate Division denied an attempt by Trump and his two eldest children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, to block subpoenas for their testimony from Attorney General Letitia James' office. All three have worked as top executives at the company.
Lawyers for the Trumps had argued the subpoenas should be quashed because James' investigation is politically motivated and designed to provide fuel for an ongoing criminal probe into the company by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
The appeals court sided with James' office, finding that her civil tax fraud investigation appears to have been "lawfully initiated at its outset and well founded."
The Appellate Division is the second-highest court in the state. The Trumps could attempt to appeal the ruling to the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, but they would need special permission from the court.
"Once again, the courts have ruled that Donald Trump must comply with our lawful investigation into his financial dealings,” James said in a statement. “We will continue to follow the facts of this case and ensure that no one can evade the law.”
A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
James’ office is weighing whether to file a civil suit against the Trump Organization over allegations that it inflated financial statements.
In court filings, her office alleged that it has “uncovered substantial evidence establishing numerous misrepresentations in Mr. Trump’s financial statements provided to banks, insurers, and the Internal Revenue Service.” The company has denied any wrongdoing, and the former president has called James' probe a "witch hunt."
James' office wants to ask Trump about several of those statements, which she alleges were inflated by hundreds of millions of dollars and signed off on by Trump. Investigators plan to ask Ivanka Trump, a former executive at the company, and Trump Jr., its current executive vice president, about the company's financial operations, as well.
Trump's lawyer, Alina Habba, argued the contempt finding should be purged because Trump has done an exhaustive search and could not find any of the documents and information James requested. James' office said this week in court filings that it is still waiting on information from Trump's former executive assistant.