A New York state judge has ruled the Trump Organization must release documents related to a property whose tax abatements are being investigated by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The issue stems from a Westchester County property and whether its conservation easement is legitimate. The Trump organization claimed a $21 million tax deduction on the property. President Trump’s son Eric sat for a deposition in October regarding the property.
Attorney Amy Carlin argued an engineer’s documents regarding the property are protected by attorney-clients privilege. Carlin argued the Trump Organization “had every expectation those communications would be confidential.”
Eric Haren, an attorney for James’ office, countered by saying the organization waived its privilege when it gave documents to the IRS to “gain benefit.” Haren also said everything involving the property, except its appraisal value, has been kept from the AG’s office.
Judge Arthur Engoron ruled Wednesday that none of the documents meet the standard for confidentiality and gave the Trump Organization until Friday to produce the documents.
“By December 18, 2020, the Trump Org. must produce all communications with Ralph Mastromonaco to the New York Attorney General’s office,” Engoron said, according to ABC News.
The property is one of four that the Trump Organization claimed New York State tax deductions on and is part of an investigation into the organization and its finances.
Trump’s attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance violations, testified to Congress that Trump inflated his assets to seem wealthier than he was and deflated his assets to reduce his real-estate taxes.
Trump’s avoidance of taxes is no secret. A deep dive into Trump’s taxes by the New York Times showed years of losses by his casinos and properties and significant tax avoidance by Trump, the soon-to-be ex-president of the United States. The Times investigation revealed he paid a combined $1,500 in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017. The outgoing president has also fought the release of his returns since the 2016 Republican primaries.
James’ office has been trying to get a clear picture of Trump’s finances for more than a year. Once Trump leavea office next month, it will be easier for James’ to conduct her investigation.