Donald Trump faces another massive blow as Trump Organization ordered to hand over records to NY AG Letitia James
While the firm tried to defend itself by saying the documents were privileged, the judge decided against it, and now, the papers must be handed over by December 18
It is a long dark tunnel for President Donald Trump at the moment. The 45th US President is not only losing all the legal challenges that he and his legal allies have initiated in order to overturn the results of the November 3 election, but he has also lost yet another lawsuit outside the election arena.
On Tuesday, December 15, CNN reporter Shimon Prokupecz tweeted, saying a court had ruled against the President in his ongoing refusal to hand over papers to the New York Attorney General Letitia James. “Trump Organization must turn over documents requested by the NY Attorney General, court rules. The AG argued that the documents were not privileged because the Trump Organization had “waived privilege” when it disclosed certain documents to the IRS to “gain benefit”,” the tweet said.
Trump Organization must turn over documents requested by the NY Attorney General, court rules. The AG argued that the documents were not privileged because the Trump Organization had “waived privilege” when it disclosed certain documents to the IRS to “gain benefit.” @soniamoghe— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) December 15, 2020
Judge Arthur Engoron of the New York County State Supreme Court gave the ruling that would provide another blow to the embattled president. The ruling came after the arguments were conducted remotely. The judge said that the documents must be handed over by December 18.
The Trump Organization previously said the documents were protected by the attorney-client privilege. Amy Carlin, an attorney for the organization said it had “every expectation that those communications would be confidential”, regarding discussions about a property in Westchester County involving an engineer, CNN reported. Judge Engoron had also previously ruled that the documents were "privileged", the report added.
New York AG James’ office, however, argued that the documents were not privileged, partially because the Trump Organization had “waived privilege”, while disclosing certain documents to the Internal Revenue Service to “gain benefit”. Attorney Eric Haren said this on behalf of James’s office. Haren said that “literally everything other than the final appraisal value” was not disclosed to his office, the CNN report added.
The NY AG’s office has been probing the president and the Trump Organization since last year when Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen testified before the Congress that the president’s annual financial statements inflated values of his assets to get favorable loans and insurance coverage. But when it came to other assets, their values were deflated so that real-estate taxes were curtailed. Haren said that the refusal to release those documents has “delayed” the attorney general's ability to investigate.
'Justice and rule of law prevailed'
AG James, a Democrat, welcomed the ruling to say in a statement: “Once again, justice and the rule of law prevailed. We will immediately move to ensure that the Trump Organization complies with the court’s order and submits records related to our investigation. My office’s ongoing investigation will continue, as we continue to follow the facts wherever they may lead.”
It was in August that the AG filed a motion seeking real-estate documents and testimony from several witnesses against the firm. Her probe is examining whether the company rightly valued the Seven Springs Property that allowed more than $21 million in tax deductions in wake of a contribution to a conservation easement for the tax year 2015. Ralph Mastromanaco is the engineer who worked with the company on Seven Springs Estate, Westchester County, north of Manhattan.
The 212-acre property in Westchester is among the four properties that faced a probe into whether Trump’s son Eric and associates had inflated the assets, among several allegations against the president’s family, including an ongoing criminal investigation from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.