Senior advisor to the President Ivanka Trump listens during a rally in support of incumbent Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue ahead of the Senate runoff elections in Dalton, Georgia, on January 4, 2021.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | fake images
A New York appeals court on Thursday denied a request by Ivanka Trump to avoid testifying in the trial for defrauding her family and her business empire of $250 million.
Ivanka, the eldest daughter of former President Donald Trump and wife of billionaire Jared Kushner, had argued in part that she would suffer “undue hardship” if she were forced to testify “in the middle of a school week.”
The ruling means Ivanka Trump must appear in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday, as previously ordered. Her father is scheduled to testify in the case on Monday.
Mrs. Trump’s two adult brothers, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, testified this week, and Eric returned to the stand Friday morning. Both Trump brothers appeared to try to distance themselves from the financial statements at the center of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud case.
James alleges a decade-long scheme by Trump Sr., his adult children, the Trump Organization and others to inflate his net worth in order to obtain various financial benefits, including tax benefits and better loan terms.
James is seeking about $250 million in damages and wants to prevent the defendants from running another business in New York.
Ivanka Trump was dismissed as a party in the case earlier this year, after an appeals court ruled that the claims against her were outside the statute of limitations. Trump Sr., Trump Jr. and Eric remain co-defendants.
In a one-sentence ruling Thursday night, the First Judicial Department of the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court denied Ivanka’s attempt not to testify.
That decision came just hours after Ivanka’s attorney, Bennett Moskowitz, requested a temporary stay pending her challenge to Judge Arthur Engoron’s order denying her request to avoid the witness stand.
Moskowitz argued that subpoenas for her testimony were improperly served, that Engoron erred in her earlier ruling, and that the court lacked jurisdiction over her because she is not a defendant and does not live in New York.
President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump walk toward Marine One before departing the White House on June 13, 2017 in Washington, DC.
“Mrs. Trump, who resides in Florida with her three minor children, will suffer undue hardship if she is denied a suspension and required to testify at a trial in New York in the middle of a school week, in a case in which she already has been dismissed before his appeal is heard,” Moskowitz wrote.
The last line of that filing asked the court to suspend the entire trial, which has been ongoing for a month and is expected to continue until the end of December.
In a response motion opposing Ivanka’s request, James called Trump’s arguments “completely baseless.”
As the former executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization, Ivanka Trump “has firsthand knowledge of issues that are critical to the ongoing trial,” James wrote.
The attorney general also dismissed the idea that a mandatory court appearance would subject Ivanka to undue hardship.
“Mrs. Trump’s mere need to attend trial for a single day to testify truthfully is not in itself serious harm warranting emergency relief,” the attorney general wrote.
Moskowitz’s reference to Mrs. Trump’s children’s school schedule as a factor in her decision to testify attracted attention online, where some legal experts noted that the Kushner family has more than ample means to pay for additional child care.
They also noted that during the Trump presidency, Ivanka frequently accompanied her father on both domestic and foreign trips.