Ivanka Trump seeks to avoid testifying in her father’s New York fraud trial

Former president’s eldest daughter distances herself from her father’s business, legal woes and 2024 campaign

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Friday 20 October 2023 22:16 BST
Donald Trump says civil fraud trial is going ‘very well’

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Louise Thomas

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Ivanka Trump has asked the judge in her father’s New York civil fraud trial to quash a subpoena to compel her to testify in court.

The filing late on Thursday states that Ms Trump should not be put on the witness stand because she is no longer a defendant in the case concerning the dealings of the Trump Organization and also is no longer a New York City resident.

She now resides in Miami, Florida, with her husband, Jared Kushner, and their children and has distanced herself from Donald Trump’s business and political ambitions since he left the White House in January 2021.

In making their argument, lawyers for the former president’s elder daughter note that an intermediate appellate court dismissed her as a co-defendant in the case against her father under the statute of limitations in June. Further, they say, New York Attorney General Letitia James missed the chance for her testimony because her office did not depose Ms Trump.

“Trial subpoenas are not a means for parties to get discovery, which they failed to obtain during pretrial proceedings,” attorney, Bennet Moskowitz, wrote in the 12-page filing.

“The NYAG, which never deposed Ms Trump, is effectively trying to force her back into this case from which she was dismissed by a unanimous decision of the Appellate Division, First Department. Ms Trump is not a party in this action. Nor is Ms Trump a New York resident. It is black-letter law that, given those two facts, Ms Trump is beyond the jurisdiction of this Court,” he added.

Donald Trump and his children Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for Trump SoHo New York in April 2010
Donald Trump and his children Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for Trump SoHo New York in April 2010 (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Trump SoHo)

A possible reason the prosecution wants to put Ms Trump on the witness stand is that her penthouse in her father’s Trump Park Avenue apartment building has been introduced into evidence.

In 2011, she signed a rental agreement with an option to buy a penthouse at the property, saying in her memoir, The Trump Card, that she “didn’t benefit from an insider price” and paid market value for the property.

The New York attorney general’s case, meanwhile, states that Ms Trump had an option to buy the penthouse for $8.5m, but the Trump Organization’s financial statements valued the unit at $20.82m.

When her father launched his 2024 presidential campaign, his eldest daughter released a statement saying that she would not be part of his quest to return to the White House.

Ms Trump’s brothers Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump are co-defendants in the case alongside their father, the Trump Organization and senior company employees.

Prior to the start of the trial, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that the defendants had defrauded banks and insurers by grossly inflating the value of assets and Mr Trump’s net worth to gain more favourable financing terms.

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