New York Attorney General eyeing early January deposition of Trump: report

Tish James wants to depose Trump over alleged fraud that "permeated the Trump Organization"

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published December 9, 2021 12:52PM (EST)

Letitia James and Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Letitia James and Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

New York Attorney General Letitia James is looking to depose Donald Trump as part of the state's civil probe into the widespread fraud that allegedly "permeated the Trump Organization."

James has requested that Trump provide testimony on January 7 of next year in hopes of gleaning more information around claims that Trump overvalued many of his assets to secure underserved loans from various financial institutions, according to The Washington Post. Trump also allegedly lowered the value of his assets on tax forms in a bid to reduce the Trump Organization's tax burden. 

Back in 2012, the Post reported, Trump told the IRS that 40 Wall Street – also known as the Trump Building – was worth $16 million. But in talks with lenders just a few months later, the former president claimed that the same property had a whopping $527 million price tag. Prosecutors are also apparently scrutinizing other properties owned by Trump in California – and their investigation appears to be extensive. For one of Trump's golf clubs in the Golden State, prosecutors have reportedly asked specialists for geology reports analyzing the sediment under the greenery, which may have impacted the property's total value due to multiple landslides.

RELATED: Meet New York's Letitia James: Why Donald Trump's worst legal nightmare is not Robert Mueller

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James' office still has yet to personally accuse Trump of any financial wrongdoing. However, back in July, the Trump Organization was formally charged in a separate criminal inquiry – led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance – with running a 15-year scheme to aid its employees in tax evasion. At the center of this scheme was former Trump Organization executive Allen H. Weisselberg, who failed to report $1.7 million worth of company perks that should have been registered as income. 

Trump, for his part, has vehemently attacked James' investigation as a "witch hunt" that is politically motivated. 

"There is nothing more corrupt than an investigation that is in desperate search of a crime," Trump said back in May. "But, make no mistake, that is exactly what is happening here. The Attorney General of New York literally campaigned on prosecuting Donald Trump even before she knew anything about me."

"New York is being overrun by violence, children are being shot in Times Square, homelessness is through the roof — yet the only focus of the New York DA and AG is to 'get' Trump," a spokesperson for the Trump Organization also echoed at the time.

Back in October of last year, James deposed Trump's son, Eric – the executive vice president of the Trump Organization – as part of the same ongoing inquiry. After refusing to comply, Eric Trump eventually agreed to provide testimony. 

In October of this year, Donald Trump himself went under oath as a part of a separate inquiry into an assault against protesters that unfolded just outside of Trump Tower. 

RELATED: Trump to go under oath for first time as ex-president

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

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Deposition Donald Trump Fraud Letitia James New York Trump Organization