A US judge has ruled that Ivanka Trump, daughter of former President Donald Trump, must testify in a civil fraud trial involving her father, brothers, and family business.
In a Friday ruling, Judge Arthur Engoron sided with New York state lawyers who had argued that Ivanka was a relevant witness in the case, after she was previously dismissed as a defendant.
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The judge cited documents showing that Ivanka Trump continued to have ties to some businesses in New York and still owns Manhattan apartments.
“Ms Trump has clearly availed herself of the privilege of doing business in New York,” Engoron said.
The ruling has come several weeks into a trial in New York, where state Attorney General Letitia James has accused Trump, sons Don Jr and Eric, and executives with the Trump Organization of misleading investors about the company’s value to secure favourable loans and deals.
Ivanka’s lawyers had argued that she left the Trump Organization and New York in 2017, with her lawyer Bennet Moskowitz telling the judge on Friday that state lawyers “don’t have jurisdiction over her”.
But lawyers for the state countered that she had relevant information to offer as the company’s former executive vice president.
“She is 100 percent someone who can come in and testify,” said Kevin Wallace, a lawyer for the attorney general’s office.
The state attorneys also cast doubt on the claim that the former president’s daughter no longer had business dealings in New York, citing ties to businesses and apartments in Manhattan, an argument that Engoron seemed to agree with.
In late September, the judge ruled that Trump had committed fraud for years while building the real estate empire that catapulted him to fame, massively overstating his assets to help secure financing.
That ruling decided the key claim of the case, but several others have yet to be resolved, along with potential punishment.
Trump, the current frontrunner in the race for the Republican Party’s nomination for the 2024 election, has called the lawsuit a “sham” and lashed out at James, members of the court staff, and even the judge.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Trump called the judge “a very partisan judge, with a person who’s very partisan sitting alongside of him”. In New York state court, clerks typically sit next to judges, with the witness box on the other side.
On Thursday, Engoron slapped Trump with a $10,000 fine for violating a previously issued gag order that allowed him to criticise the trial but barred him from making disparaging remarks about court staff.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies