Donald Trump faces legal action to comply with New York attorney general's inquiry

Letitia James had opened an investigation into the Trump Organisation in 2019

New York State Attorney General Letitia James is investigating whether the Trump organisation falsely and fraudulently valued assets. Photo: Reuters

New York Attorney General Letitia James took legal action to compel former US president Donald Trump and his closest family members to give sworn evidence on Wednesday, part of a continuing investigation into the Trump Organisation’s financial dealings.

The probe will also summon his son Donald Jr, and daughter Ivanka, to explain irregularities in the Trump Organisation's financial disclosures.

Papers that were filed on Wednesday make it clear that the Trump family members mentioned were directly involved in one or more transactions under review, Ms James's office said.

Earlier this month, the Trumps filed a motion to quash these interviews.

In a tweet sent on Tuesday evening Ms James announced her office's intentions to force the Trumps into compliance, saying that “no one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them.”

“For more than two years, the Trump Organisation has used delay tactics and litigation in an attempt to thwart a legitimate investigation into its financial dealings,” she said.

“Thus far in our investigation, we have uncovered significant evidence that suggests Donald J Trump and the Trump Organisation falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit.”

Ms James opened an investigation into Mr Trump and the Trump Organisation in March 2019, after Mr Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified before Congress that annual financial statements inflated the values of the former president’s assets to obtain favourable terms for loans and insurance coverage, while also deflating the value of other assets, to reduce real estate taxes.

For more than two years, the Trump Organisation has acknowledged attorney general's authority to investigate the matters alleged, but it has only recently begun to produce the bulk of the documents called for in summons issued as far back as December 2019.

Mr Trump and his children, Donald Jr and Ivanka, have refused to appear to give testimony.

Updated: January 19, 2022, 7:00 AM