Trump strikes deal to evade deposition in New York investigation – for now

Agreement with attorney general Letitia James covers two eldest children but seeks to speed up civil legal proceedings

Donald Trump has reached an agreement with the the New York attorney general’s office that will temporarily spare him from having to answer questions under oath as part of an investigation into his business, as the former president’s appeal process in the case continues.

In February, a New York judge ordered that Trump and his two eldest children, Donald Jr and Ivanka, must appear for a deposition as part of New York state’s civil investigation into Trump Organization’s business practices, including allegations the family company fraudulently inflated the value of its assets.

Trump has since appealed that ruling, a move that will probably delay the battle over his testimony by months.

Under the new agreement between Trump and the attorney general’s office, detailed in court papers on Thursday, Trump and his two children must sit for depositions within two weeks of a ruling from the appeals court, if it upholds the lower-court decision requiring their testimony.

Lawyers for the Trumps and the attorney general’s office also agreed to an accelerated briefing schedule to speed up the appeals process, with court papers due by 31 March.

Lawyers for Trump and Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr filed papers on Monday with the appellate division of the state’s trial court, seeking to overturn the Manhattan judge Arthur Engoron’s 17 February ruling that they testify.

They argue that ordering the Trumps to testify violates their constitutional rights because answers they give in the civil investigation by the attorney general, Letitia James, could be used against them in a parallel criminal investigation.

In an eight-page ruling, Engoron set a 10 March deadline for the Trumps to sit for depositions. Under the agreement reached on Thursday, that deadline is moot.

James, a Democrat, has said her investigation has uncovered evidence that Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, used “fraudulent or misleading” valuations of assets such as golf courses and skyscrapers to get loans and tax benefits.

In a statement following Engoron’s decision, Trump called the ruling “a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in history”.

Guardian staff and agencies

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