Ivanka seeks pause in attraction of order to testify
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Ivanka Trump asked a New York appeals court to pause the $250 million fraud trial of her family and its business empire as she appeals a judge’s order requiring her to testify in the case next week.
The request to stay the entire trial came at the tail end of a Thursday court filing arguing that Ivanka Trump will face “undue hardship” if forced to testify — in part because she is scheduled to appear “in the middle of a school week.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James urged the appeals court to reject that request, calling it a “drastic” and baseless move that “would upend an ongoing trial.”
Ivanka Trump’s filing in the First Judicial Department of the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division mainly sought a temporary stay of the order for her testimony while she pursues an appeal.
On Wednesday, her attorney filed a notice that she is appealing “each and every part” of Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron’s order rejecting her bid to avoid the witness stand.
She is currently expected to begin testifying next Wednesday, following her father, former President Donald Trump.
Her two adult brothers, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, testified this week.
All three of Ivanka’s family members are named as co-defendants in James’ case, alleging a decade-long scheme to falsely inflate Donald Trump Sr.’s net worth in order to get various financial perks, including tax benefits and better loan terms.
Ivanka Trump was originally listed as a co-defendant as well, but she was removed earlier this year on statute of limitations grounds by a New York appeals court earlier.
James’ lawsuit described her an executive vice president for development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization until early January 2017, when she became a senior advisor to her father in the White House.
Eric and Trump Jr. took over the Trump Organization after their father became president.
In Thursday’s filing to the appeals court, Ivanka’s attorney argued that she is “beyond the jurisdiction” of Engoron’s court and that the judge made “multiple errors” when he declined to quash subpoenas for her testimony.
The lawyer, Bennett Moskowitz, argued the court lacks personal jurisdiction over Ivanka, noting that she lives not in New York but in Florida.
He also argued that her subpoenas were improperly served. “Ms. Trump, who resides in Florida with her three minor children, will suffer undue hardship if a stay is denied and she is required to testify at trial in New York in the middle of a school week, in a case she has already been dismissed from, before her appeal is heard,” Moskowitz wrote.
James fired back in a court filing later Thursday, calling the arguments about a lack of jurisdiction “utterly meritless.” The attorney general noted that Ivanka owns New York property and “still transacts business in the state.”
“Ms. Trump’s arguments are based on the false premise that witnesses with relevant, firsthand knowledge may be called to testify only if they are ‘a primary actor’ in the case,” James told the appeals court.
Ivanka Trump “has firsthand knowledge of issues that are central to the ongoing trial,” James wrote. “And staying her testimony may well serve to delay the fair and orderly resolution of a trial that has now been proceeding for over almost a month, in which OAG is nearing completion of its case in chief.”
James added: “Ms. Trump’s mere need to attend trial for a single day to testify truthfully is not itself a serious harm that warrants emergency relief.”