Judge slaps down Don Jr. Ivanka and Donald Trump’s effort to dodge subpoenas — and gives them three weeks to testify
Ivanka and Donald Trump (NASA)

Former President Donald Trump and his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. have lost their bid to quash subpoenas issued by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The Trumps were dodging an effort to testify in the Trump Organization fraud case.

As part of their argument, the lawyers for the Trumps claimed that James could not oversee the case because she trashed Trump during her campaign for attorney general. They also alleged that the case, which is civil, is happening at the same time as a criminal probe.

Judge Arthur Engoron ruled on Thursday that the New York AG's office has the right to compel Trump and his children to testify -- and now he's given them 21 days to do so.

"In the final analysis, a State Attorney General commences investigating a business entity, uncovers copious evidence of possible financial fraud, and wants to question, under oath, several of the entities’ principals, including its namesake," Engoron wrote. "She has the clear right to do so."

"Once you use the word ‘criminal’, you’re in grand jury land,” said attorney Alan Futeras, who represents Don Jr. and Ivanka, according to Courthouse News.

Donald Trump's lawyer claims that because it's "really" a criminal case, they should be before the grand jury answering questions. The reason goes back to New York's transactional immunity law. Courthouse News explains that such immunity would protect Trump from prosecution from any crime if he unveils things during his testimony.

"Here we get transaction immunity," said criminal defense attorney Ron Fischetti. "They want to ask him questions under oath? Fine, put him in a grand jury. Immunity, that’s what we’re entitled to, that’s what the constitution says we’re entitled to. They want to investigate? Investigate all they want, subpoena documents, subpoena witnesses, do whatever they want. If she wants sworn testimony from my client, he’s entitled to immunity, that’s what the constitution and the state of New York says. He gets immunity for what he says, or he says nothing."

The lawyer for Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. also asked for immunity for his clients.

"Put ‘em before the grand jury, they’ll testify, they’ll have immunity, they won’t be able draw this unfair adverse inference that’d be grossly unfair," said Futerfas. "They’ll get the information they want, but at least our clients will get immunity pursuant to the law and the constitution."

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman captured some of the key moments in the statements Thursday, tweeting, a quote from Judge Arthur Ergonon who interrupted Fischetti saying, "I appreciate your vigor, shall I say."

The judge then raised questions about the immunity demand, saying that Trump could plead the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Fischetti falsely claimed that Trump can't do that. All people, regardless of the case or trial, can plead the Fifth, as evidenced by Eric Trump, who spent six hours doing exactly that in Jan. 2022. Trump Org. CFT Allen Weisselberg similarly pleaded the Fifth when questioned in 2020.

When it comes to the attacks on the attorney general, Habmerman also cited a judge sounding "very skeptical" of the claim "that James went too far in her comments." The judge said that James never said that Trump was guilty.

New York lawyer for the attorney general's office, Kevin Wallace, quoted former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who once spoke of Trump's mentor Roy Cohn, "A man is not immune from prosecution merely because a United States attorney happens not to like him."

“There are six hundred and some odd documents in this case … I don’t remember any point in which Letitia James criticized Donald Trump’s viewpoint,” said Judge Engoron of the former president's lawyer said. “Am I missing something there?

“What viewpoint of Donald Trump do you think Letitia James is using to investigate him,” the judge asked. “There’s no viewpoint discrimination. There’s politics maybe, she’s a politician, she was elected.”

Ultimately, the Trumps lost their attempts to hide from the deposition. They must sit for questions.

James issued a statement in support of the ruling, saying that no one is above the law.

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