Watch CBS News

New York attorney general seeks Eric Trump's testimony in Trump Organization probe

N.Y. attorney general seeks Eric Trump testimony
New York attorney general seeks Eric Trump's testimony in probe of Trump Organization 00:37

New York Attorney General Letitia James has asked a judge to force the Trump Organization to hand over information and testimony it has been withholding, including an interview with the president's son, Eric Trump. 

James' filing confirms her office is probing whether the Trump Organization misled lenders.

"OAG is currently investigating whether the Trump Organization and Donald J. Trump (Mr. Trump) improperly inflated the value of Mr. Trump's assets on annual financial statements in order to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits," James wrote in her memorandum to the New York State Supreme Court Monday.

James' office says Eric Trump was scheduled to undergo an interview recently, but did not appear, despite receiving a subpoena. 

She initiated the investigation after former Trump attorney Michael Cohen told Congress in 2019 that the president had inflated his net worth when applying for loans, and understated the value of his assets for tax purposes. Cohen alleged Mr. Trump inflated his wealth when trying to secure a loan to buy the NFL's Buffalo Bills in 2014, an effort that was ultimately fruitless. Conversely, Cohen claimed Mr. Trump sought to lower his property tax bills by deflating the value of his properties, a tactic he said was used to lower the tax bill for one of his golf clubs in New York.

Property values can increase or decrease depending on many factors, and tax avoidance is a legal strategy employed by many businesses and individuals who rely on tactics like deductions and write-offs to lower their tax bills. But tax evasion — the failure to pay tax that is owed — is illegal.

According to James' office, at issue are seven subpoenas that would give James thousands of documents and testimony from multiple witnesses, including Trump Organization executive vice president Eric Trump, about specific Trump Organization properties and transactions. 

Specifically, the New York attorney general is investigating the following Trump Organization properties: Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County, New York; 40 Wall Street, a mixed-use building in Manhattan; Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago; and Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles. 

"Nothing will stop us from following the facts and the law, wherever they may lead," James said in a statement. "For months, the Trump Organization has made baseless claims in an effort to shield evidence from a lawful investigation into its financial dealings. They have stalled, withheld documents, and instructed witnesses, including Eric Trump, to refuse to answer questions under oath. That's why we've filed a motion to compel the Trump Organization to comply with our office's lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony. These questions will be answered and the truth will be uncovered, because no one is above the law."

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization said in a statement to CBS News: 

"The Trump Organization has done nothing wrong and, as the motion papers clearly state, the NYAG has made no determination that anything was improper or that any action is forthcoming. While we have tried to cooperate in good faith with the investigation at every turn, the NYAG's continued harassment of the company as we approach the election (and filing of this motion on the first day of the Republican National Convention) once again confirms that this investigation is all about politics.  We will respond to this motion as appropriate." 

James' office has been aggressively investigating the Trump orbit over the last couple years. In 2019, the president was forced to pay more than $2 million in damages to multiple charities for illegally misusing charitable funds for the nonprofit Trump Foundation for political ends. The Trump Foundation shut down entirely in late 2019. 

Kathryn Watson, Aimee Picchi and Paula Reid contributed reporting. 

Read the filing by James here:

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.