U.S. President Donald Trump could refuse the New York attorney general's request for a deposition on the grounds that the information could be used against him in a criminal investigation. File Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 9 (UPI) -- New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking to depose former President Donald Trump as part of a civil fraud investigation of the Trump Organization, several outlets reported Thursday.
Unnamed sources told The Washington Post, CNN and The New York Times that James requested an interview with Trump on Jan. 7 at her Albany office. The investigation seeks to determine whether the company committed fraud by lowering valuations of its properties in reports to property tax officers and raising them to secure loans or tax breaks.
Danny Frost, a spokesman for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, told CNN that James' request for a deposition "is not part of the criminal investigation" being conducted in Manhattan. However, some members of James' office are working with Vance's team on the criminal probe.
If James' investigation finds evidence of fraud, her office could file a lawsuit against Trump, but not criminal charges, the Times reported.
A representative for the Trump Organization described James' request as "another political witch hunt."
"New York is being overrun by violence, children are being shot in Times Square, arsonists are setting Christmas decorations ablaze and homelessness is through the roof, yet the only focus of the New York AG is to investigate Trump, all for her own political ambitions as she attempts to run for governor," the statement said. "This political prosecution is illegal, unethical and is a travesty to our great state and legal system."
A homeless man was arrested Wednesday for setting ablaze the Fox News Christmas tree in New York.
James, who announced her run for governor in October, revealed Thursday that she will instead seek re-election as attorney general.
"I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general," she said. "There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job."
The Times reported that Trump could refuse James' request on the grounds that his deposition could be used against him in Vance's criminal investigation, violating his right to avoid self-incrimination. James' office could, however, take him to court to force him to appear for a deposition.