James has requested to take his testimony on Jan. 7 at her New York office as part of a civil investigation into whether Trump’s company committed financial fraud in the valuations of properties to different entities, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry is ongoing.
“This is another political witch-hunt,” the statement said, noting that James is running for governor next year. “The only focus of the New York AG is to investigate Trump, all for her own political ambitions … This political prosecution is illegal, unethical and is a travesty to our great state and legal system.”
The deposition marks an escalation in the probe of the former president’s company and a critical moment for James. Both the attorney general and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office are scrutinizing whether Trump’s company broke the law by providing low values to property tax officers, while using high ones to garner tax breaks or impress lenders, as The Washington Post previously reported.
“He can’t be scripted, and he’s injudicious, and he often doesn’t understand that the process is about events and facts, rather than being performance art,” said Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer who sued him. In the 2007 deposition taken for that suit, Trump was confronted by O’Brien’s lawyers with 30 false statements or misstatements.
In their inquiries, New York prosecutors are examining financial statements related to several of Trump’s properties, including his California golf club, for which he valued the same parcel of land at $900,000 and $25 million depending on the intended audience, and an estate in suburban New York, for which Trump’s valuations ranged from $56 million to $291 million. The valuations were all given in the five years before Trump won the presidency.
Prosecutors appear to have dug deeply into these properties, according to court papers and people familiar with the investigation. They have compiled reams of emails, planning documents and financial data, even seeking the initiation fees Trump charged golf club members as far back as a decade ago. In Los Angeles, they have asked for geology reports on the rock layers under Trump’s course, where the value was affected by a history of landslides.