Trump to be questioned under oath in New York investigation

The long-running civil investigation is probing whether former president’s company misled lenders and tax authorities in valuing assets.

Former President Donald Trump had previously been subpoenaed by the New York attorney general [Yuki Iwamura/The Associated Press]

Former United States President Donald Trump has said he will testify under oath as part of a New York State civil investigation into the business dealings of his company, the Trump Organization.

In a post on his social media site, Truth Social, Trump said he would be meeting on Wednesday with New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose office has been conducting a probe focusing on whether the former Republican president and his company misstated the value of assets, including golf courses and skyscrapers, to mislead lenders and tax authorities. James’s office had subpoenaed Trump in January.

The testimony comes as Trump’s myriad legal woes have again been cast into the spotlight after FBI agents, in an extraordinary move, searched the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, reportedly as part of an unrelated federal probe into whether he took classified records when he left the White House in early 2021. Observers say the move could signal the US Department of Justice is moving towards criminal charges against the president.

“In New York City tonight. Seeing racist NYS Attorney General tomorrow, for a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in US history!” Trump wrote on Tuesday, invoking his oft-repeated claims about James, who is Black.

“My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides,” Trump added. “Banana Republic!”

In May, a judge dismissed a Trump lawsuit seeking to end the investigation on the grounds the attorney general’s probe was politically motivated.

James, a Democrat and a vocal Trump critic, has said in court filings that her office has uncovered “significant” evidence that Trump’s company “used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions”. She has said the investigation could lead to legal action, including lawsuits, against the parties involved.

Trump’s upcoming testimony follows the reported questioning of his adult children, Donald Jr and Ivanka, in recent days by the New York attorney general’s office. It is expected to be closely watched by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which has been pursuing a parallel criminal investigation into the Trump Organization’s business dealings.

The Manhattan district attorney’s probe has so far resulted in tax fraud charges against the Trump Organization and its longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg. But while the three-year-old investigation had appeared to be careening towards an indictment of Trump, the momentum largely stalled after a new district attorney, Alvin Bragg, took office in January.

A former prosecutor in the investigation has since said Bragg thought it was too risky to indict the former president on the evidence they had gathered.

Beyond the FBI and New York probes, Trump faces an investigation in Georgia into whether he committed election fraud and other offences in pressuring the state’s attorney general to “find” votes following his 2020 presidential election loss. He also faces a defamation lawsuit filed by E Jean Carroll, a former writer for Elle magazine, who accuses Trump of lying in his denial of raping her in the 1990s in a New York City department store.

In Congress, a panel is also probing Trump’s role in a riot by his supporters attempting to overturn the election results at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, an appeals court ruled the House Ways and Means Committee can view Trump’s tax returns, which he has long withheld from public view. The returns would offer a window into Trump’s personal finances and business dealings.

Since leaving office, Trump has remained the Republican Party’s most influential voice and repeatedly stoked speculation that he would run again in 2024.

Following the FBI search on Monday, Trump released a campaign-style video in which he decried the US as a “nation in decline” where law enforcement has been weaponised “against the opposing political party like never before”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies