Ivanka Trump must testify in father’s civil fraud trial, judge rules

The former president’s oldest daughter lost her attempt to block her testimony

Alex Woodward
Friday 27 October 2023 16:03 BST
Moment Trump appears to break New York fraud trial gag order

Ivanka Trump must testify in a civil fraud trial stemming from a blockbuster lawsuit targeting her father, adult brothers and the Trumps’ business empire.

Ms Trump, who was dropped from the lawsuit earlier this year, recently tried to quash a subpoena for her testimony in the case, noting that she is no longer a defendant and no longer lives in the state. She formerly lived at Trump Park Avenue.

After hearing arguments from Donald Trump’s attorneys and counsel from the office of New York Attorney General on the motion on 27 October, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled from the bench that the former president’s oldest daughter must testify, finding that she still conducts business and owns property in the state and has failed to show any evidence disputing that.

In a court filing on 26 October, New York Attorney General Letitia James argued that Ms Trump “remains financially and professionally intertwined” with the Trump Organization and “can be called as a person still under their control.”

Her address at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue was “consistently used by Ms Trump for transacting business through three separate entities” under or partially under her control, according to the 12-page filing.

During a hearing before the trial resumed in New York Supreme Court in lower Manhattan on Friday, the judge asked Ms Trump’s attorney Bennet Moskowitz whether she submitted a sworn statement about her allegedly severed ties in New York. He offered to submit one.

Ms Trump can appeal the judge’s decision; she will not be ordered to testify until at least 1 November to give her attorneys’ time.

The trial, now in its fourth week, follows a $250m lawsuit from Ms James, who alleged Mr Trump, his adult sons and chief associates fraudulently inflated his wealth and assets over a decade to obtain favourable financial benefits to support his business empire.

Judge Engoron already has determined that a trial is not necessary to prove the claims of fraud outlined across more than 200 pages in Ms James’s complaint filed last year.

The former president – who is not obligated to attend the trial, which could last up until the weekend before Christmas – has sat with his attorneys at the defence table for several days’ of hearings.

Steps outside the courtroom, he has railed against the case, Ms James, the judge and the chief clerk who sits beside him – comments that drew a gag order blocking all parties from speaking out about the court staff, which Mr Trump violated twice within one week.

This week, Mr Trump heard testimony from his former attorney Michael Cohen, who testified that he was “tasked by Mr Trump to increase the total assets based upon a number that he arbitrarily elected” for his statements of financial condition, the documents at the centre of the case.

Cohen and convicted former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg were instructed to “reverse engineer the various different asset classes – increase those assets – in order to achieve the number that Mr Trump had tasked us with,” Cohen said.

Asked by counsel for the attorney general’s office what that number was, Cohen replied: “Whatever number Mr Trump told us to.”

But under hours of combative cross examination from Mr Trump’s attorneys, Cohen agreed that his former boss never asked him to “inflate” the figures at the centre of the case. He said Mr Trump’s commands were implicit rather than explicit.

“Donald Trump speaks like a mob boss,” Cohen testified. “He tells you what he wants without specifically telling you … That’s what I was referring to.”

Mr Trump has used the substantial press coverage at the courthouse on Centre Street to cast himself as a victim of political prosecution, statements he has amplified across his social media platforms and in fundraising messages to supporters as he seeks the 2024 Republican nomination for president.

Judge Engoron’s partial summary judgment ordered the dissolution of Mr Trump’s business licenses in the state, but an appeals court decision has blocked those sanctions as the trial continues and Mr Trump’s attorneys launch their appeal.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in