Daughter Ivanka Trump must testify at Donald Trump's civil fraud trial, New York judge rules
Ivanka Trump must take the witness stand in the civil fraud case against her father, her brothers and their family business, a judge ruled Friday.
The ruling came weeks into the trial of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against former President Donald Trump, sons Don Jr. and Eric, the Trump Organization and some executives.
After Ivanka Trump was dismissed as a defendant months ago, defense attorneys and her lawyer contended that she shouldn't have to testify, noting that she moved out of New York and left her Trump Organization job in 2017. The state's lawyers argued that the former Trump Organization executive vice president has relevant information.
Judge Arthur Engoron sided with the state, citing documents showing that Ivanka Trump continued to have ties to some businesses in New York and still owns Manhattan apartments.
“Ms. Trump has clearly availed herself of the privilege of doing business in New York,” Engoron said. He said her testimony wouldn't be scheduled before Nov. 1, to give her lawyers time to appeal.
James' lawsuit accuses the former president of overstating his wealth for years on financial statements that were given to banks, insurers and others to help secure loans and deals.
The defendants deny the allegations. Donald Trump, the current Republican 2024 presidential front-runner, has called the trial a politically motivated “sham." James is a Democrat.
The ex-president and his sons are expected to testify at some point. In a surprise preview, the elder Trump ended up briefly on the witness stand Wednesday to answer Engoron's questions about an out-of-court comment.
Ivanka Trump's lawyer, Bennet Moskowitz, had told the judge Friday that state lawyers "just don’t have jurisdiction over her."
A state appeals court in June tossed the claims against her as too old. Ivanka Trump announced in January 2017, ahead of her father's inauguration, that she was stepping away from her Trump Organization job. She soon became an unpaid senior adviser in the Trump White House. After her father's term ended, she moved to Florida.
“The idea that somehow Ms. Trump is under the control of the Trump Organization or any of the defendants, her father -- anyone who has raised a daughter past the age of 13 knows that they’re not under their control,” said Christopher Kise, a lawyer for the ex-president.
Kise maintained that state lawyers “just want another free-for-all on another of President Trump’s children.”
State lawyers, however, argued that Ivanka Trump was a key participant in some events discussed in the case and remains financially and professionally intertwined with the family business and its leaders.
“She is 100% someone who can come in and testify,” said Kevin Wallace, a lawyer for the attorney general's office.