The New York attorney general is seeking to question Donald Trump as part of a civil investigation into fraud allegations involving the former president’s namesake business, The Washington Post first reported on Thursday.
Letitia James wants Trump to sit for a January 7 deposition as she probes whether Trump Organization manipulated the valuations of its real estate properties, the Reuters and The Associated Press news agencies also reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
The civil investigation is related to but separate from an over three-year criminal probe by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance of the Trump Organization’s business practices, which James joined in May.
Trump’s representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment from AP and Reuters. James’s office declined to comment to both news agencies.
A spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney’s office told AP on Thursday that the interview request “is not part of the criminal investigation”.
In July, the company and longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in what a prosecutor in Vance’s office called a “sweeping and audacious” 15-year tax fraud.
The civil probe includes a focus on whether the Trump Organization overstated the value of some real estate assets to obtain loans and tax benefits.
Trump has not been charged with crimes or accused of wrongdoing, and has called the probes politically motivated.
Requesting Trump’s testimony is a first step in a process that could eventually lead to issuing a subpoena and going to a judge to order him to cooperate if he were to refuse.
James had announced a run for New York governor in late October, but on Thursday she suspended that campaign. She cited ongoing investigations in her decision to instead seek re-election as state attorney general.
James’s probe began after Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, told Congress the former president also deflated other asset values to reduce real estate taxes.
The attorney general’s investigators last year interviewed one of Trump’s sons, Trump Organization executive Eric Trump, as part of the probe.
Her office went to court to enforce a subpoena on the younger Trump and a judge forced him to testify after his lawyers abruptly cancelled a previously scheduled deposition.