A question that is never far from millions of people’s minds is the matter of Donald Trump, and whether or not he’ll ever be meaningfully held accountable for a lifetime of corruption that would make Al Capone blush. Unfortunately, we don’t have an answer to that at this time. But! Two recent developments suggest the ex-president should be somewhat concerned about his future.
Currently the subject of numerous criminal investigations and facing a clown car of lawsuits, these updates regard the New York attorney general’s fraud investigation of the Trump Organization. The first, per The Washington Post, is that New York A.G. Letitia James has requested Trump sit for a deposition on January 7. As the Post’s Josh Dawsey and David Fahrenthold note, the deposition “marks an escalation in the probe of the former president’s company,” which in July was charged, alongside its longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg, with more than a dozen felonies, including conspiracy, grand larceny, and multiple counts of tax fraud and falsifying records. (Both Trump’s business and Weisselberg have pleaded not guilty.) At the moment, both James and Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.—who brought the July charges together—are determining if the Trump Organization broke the law by inflating the value of its properties to look attractive to lenders, while deflating them to minimize its tax bills. For instance, in 2012, when the Trump Organization was listing its assets for potential lenders, it said an office building it owns at 40 Wall Street was worth $527 million; a few months later, it told property tax officials the building was worth $16.7 million. Elsewhere, a California golf club was valued at $900,000 or $25 million, depending on the audience, while a suburban New York estate’s valuations ranged from $56 million up to $291 million, which experts say is highly unusual.
Should Trump refuse to appear for James’s deposition—and, if history is any guide, he may—the A.G. could take him to court in an effort to make him comply. In 2020, James’s office subpoenaed Eric Trump, who initially refused to comply, before agreeing to sit for questioning in the fall. Earlier this year, a judge forced the ex-president to be deposed in a case accusing his security guards of assaulting protesters in 2015. While the details of that four-and-a-half hour ordeal have not been made public, Trump biographer Tim O’Brien has a pretty good idea of how it went. “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,” O’Brien told the Post. (In 2007, after Trump sued O’Brien for his unflattering but accurate portrait of the guy, O’Brien’s lawyers confronted him with dozens of his own lies. In 2009, a judge dismissed Trump’s case against O’Brien.) In December 2020 and February 2021, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., respectively, were deposed under oath by D.C.’s attorney general, and it certainly seemed as though they lied about their involvement in their father’s inauguration. So trouble with depositions appears to be a family affair.
Meanwhile, if Trump thought he was just a few months away from ridding himself of James—who had the ex-president’s foundation shut down in 2019 for illegally scamming charities—he’s in for a big surprise.
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that she is ending her bid for governor of the state and instead running for reelection. “I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general,” James said in a statement Thursday. “There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job.”
James entered the race in late October, immediately becoming the leading challenger to moderate Gov. Kathy Hochul, the Democratic lieutenant governor who replaced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo after his resignation this summer in the midst of a sexual misconduct scandal.