On Wednesday, a New York State judge rejected Eric Trump’s request to delay an interview with the state Attorney General’s office investigating the Trump family’s real estate business dealings. In his ruling, the judge ordered the President’s son to answer questions, under oath, by October 7th.
Which begs a different question: is Eric Trump the 2020 presidential campaign’s October surprise?
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 11: Eric Trump attends the Veterans Day Parade opening ceremony on … [+] November 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
Trump’s lawyers had previously requested a delay in answering the New York Attorney General’s questions until a date following the election. The reason, Trump claimed, is that he has a very busy travel schedule as a surrogate for his father’s campaign. As an alternative, Trump’s lawyers suggested post-election dates that Trump believed were reasonable for the interview.
Following a hearing reviewing motion’s by the state Attorney General’s office and Trump’s lawyers, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron dismissed the arguments by Trump’s attorneys. According to media sources that reported on the hearing, Engoron said that the New York legal system isn’t “bound by the timelines of the national election.”
The judge also ordered that certain real estate records that had been previously withheld by the Trump Organization must be delivered to the state Attorney General’s investigators.
Following the hearing, New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a statement applauding the judge’s ruling.
“Justice and the rule of law prevailed today,” said James. “We will immediately move to ensure that Donald Trump and the Trump Organization comply with the court’s order and submit financial records related to our investigation. Further, Eric Trump will no longer be able to delay his interview and will be sitting down with investigators in my office no later than October 7.”
James’s statement continued: “To be clear, no entity or individual is allowed to dictate how or when our investigation will proceed or set the parameters of a lawful investigation. The court’s order today makes clear that no one is above the law, not even an organization or an individual with the name Trump.”
The investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office was opened in 2019 following testimony by Michael Cohen to Congress. At the time, President Trump’s former attorney testified that the Trump Organization’s annual financial statement had previously overstated the value of Trump properties in order to benefit from preferable loan terms. Since then, the New York Attorney General’s office has aggressively pursued real estate and financial documents, as well as personal testimony, from the officers of the Trump Organization, including President Trump and his children.
Following the Wednesday’s ruling, Eric Trump attacked the Attorney General in a series of tweets, complaining “Violent crimes are at a historic high in NY, yet the [New York Attorney General] has plenty of time to tweet out the date for my deposition. #WhatAJoke”
With the presidential election entering its final six weeks, and the nation reeling from a series of shocks to the already volatile race, Eric Trump’s upcoming testimony presents another possible twist in the campaign. The aggressive posturing of the New York Attorney General, coupled with the resistance of Trump and his lawyers, may present a further legal showdown prior to the election. The testimony might also unearth additional information which could help the AG’s office deepen their investigation into alleged fraudulent actions of the Trump organization and its leadership – including President Trump.
While nothing has been predictable about the 2020 election, the consequences of Wednesday’s ruling in New York are also far from clear. But one thing is certain, Eric Trump will play a big role in the final days of his father’s reelection, whether he is on the campaign trail, or in a deposition.
What will the nature of that role be? That could be the biggest October surprise of all.