(CN) — Subpoenaed as part of the New York attorney general’s investigation, Eric Trump failed Wednesday to put off being interviewed about how the president’s assets were described on financial statements that the Trump Organization used to secure loans and various tax benefits.
“This court finds [Eric Trump's] application unpersuasive," Justice Arthur Engoron said this afternoon, reading his decision to conclude a remote hearing of the Manhattan Supreme Court.
Noting that the court is “not bound by the timelines of the election,” Engoron ordered the president’s son to appear for deposition no later than Oct. 7, 2020.
New York Attorney General James, who revealed her probe last month, celebrated the ruling in a statement.
“Justice and the rule of law prevailed today,” James said. “We will immediately move to ensure that Donald Trump and the Trump Organization comply with the court’s order and submit financial records related to our investigation. Further, Eric Trump will no longer be able to delay his interview and will be sitting down with investigators in my office no later than October 7. To be clear, no entity or individual is allowed to dictate how or when our investigation will proceed or set the parameters of a lawful investigation. The court’s order today makes clear that no one is above the law, not even an organization or an individual with the name Trump.”
Eric Trump's attorney Alan Futerfas did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
Earlier in opening the day’s proceedings, the judge quoted late Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization."
The same is true of investigations, Engoron said, noting the principle of the U.S. judicial system that the public has the right "every man's evidence."
For the attorney general, who made the probe public last month, every man includes the president’s son.
Futerfas says Eric Trump is too busy on the campaign trail to prepare for such consequential testimony until after Election Day, but the attorney general’s counsel Matthew Colangelo countered that such a request is not within his power.
“There's just no reason, and Eric Trump's attorneys have not pointed to any authority,” said Colangelo, referring to an authority allowing such a delay. “And we are not aware of any authority.”
Eric Trump was previously scheduled to testify on July 22 but was a no-show.
Colangelo noted that the typical period of time for compliance is five days, not two months.
Together with his co-counsel Marc Mukasey, a former federal prosecutor, Futerfas wants the presidential contest to be over to prepare Eric Trump for the hot seat.
“That's all we ask for,” Futerfas said during today’s hearing. “We think it is reasonable under the circumstances."
Two days before Eric Trump’s canceled deposition date, the attorney general’s office grilled the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, and the company complained that the questions went “beyond the scope of [its] civil inquiry,” according to the memorandum.
On July 21, the attorney general assured the Trump Organization that her office “does not currently have an open criminal investigation into these matters” and had “not coordinated with another criminal law enforcement agency on matters related to this investigation.”
Engoron also ruled that the attorney general will be given access to documents withheld by the Trump Organization, including requested financial records related to the Seven Springs Estate, a 212-acre Mount Kisco mansion in Westchester County, New York.
“Valuations of Seven Springs were used to claim an apparent $21.1 million tax deduction for donating a conservation easement on the property in tax year 2015, and in submissions to financial institutions as a component of Mr. Trump’s net worth,” the attorney general wrote in a 68-page memo last month.
Eric Trump, in addition to being the president’s son, serves as the Trump Organization’s executive vice president and Seven Springs LLC’s president.
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