It was about a month ago when the public learned that New York Attorney General Letitia James wants to depose Donald Trump as part of her civil tax fraud investigation into the Trump Organization. As NBC News reported, James' office wants the former president to answer questions under oath as part of the ongoing probe into whether Trump's business committed fraud in reporting the value of certain properties to banks and tax authorities.
Not surprisingly, the Republican has pushed back against the request.
But as it turns out, the New York attorney general's office isn't just interested in speaking with Trump; investigators want to talk to two of his adult children, too. NBC News reported late yesterday:
New York Attorney General Letitia James has subpoenaed Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. as part of her civil tax fraud investigation into the Trump Organization, court filings made public Monday reveal.
According to a New York Supreme Court order unsealed yesterday, the state attorney general's office "recently" filed subpoenas seeking testimony and documents from the pair "in connection with an investigation into the valuation of properties owned or controlled by Donald J. Trump or the Trump Organization."
As regular readers know, the controversy surrounding how Trump's operation valued its assets may sound like a boring topic, but it's proving to be a surprisingly potent problem.
In a written statement, James said yesterday, "For more than two years, members of the Trump family and the Trump Organization have continually sought to delay and impede our investigation into Donald Trump and the Trump Organization, but despite their names, they must play by the same rules as everyone else. These delay tactics will not stop us from following the facts or the law, which is why we will be asking the court to compel Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump to testify with our office under oath."
The New York attorney general added, "Our investigation will continue undeterred."
In case this isn't obvious, it's worth emphasizing that this isn't an instance in which a state A.G. is going after a suspect's kids. Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. have long been executives at the controversial family business. If the allegations are true and the Trump Organization engaged in tax fraud and bank fraud, it stands to reason that the company's executives would be asked to cooperate with the civil investigation.
It's also worth noting that while this is not a criminal probe — though the Trump Organization is facing criminal charges in a separate matter — that doesn't make the matter less relevant. It was, after all, civil investigations launched by the New York attorney general's office that led to the dismantling of Trump's bogus "university" and the former president's fraudulent charitable foundation.
What's more, as Rachel explained on last night's show, the fact that there are two parallel lines of legal inquiry is of particular relevance. If Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. give testimony in the civil case, that testimony could potentially be used against them in the criminal case.
But if they refuse to testify to the attorney general — if they, for example, take the Fifth — that very refusal could be used against them in the civil case.
For now, the pair have filed a court motion in the hopes of quashing the subpoenas. Watch this space.
Postscript: The Republican National Committee is helping pay the former president's legal bills. It's an open question as to whether the RNC will also chip in money for his adult kids' lawyers.