Senior advisor to the President Ivanka Trump listens during a rally in support of Republican incumbent senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue ahead of Senate runoff in Dalton, Georgia on January 4, 2021.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
A New York appeals court on Thursday denied a request by Ivanka Trump to avoid testifying in the $250 million fraud trial of her family and its business empire.
Ivanka, the eldest daughter of former President Donald Trump and wife of billionaire Jared Kushner, had argued in part that she would suffer “undue hardship” if she were forced to testify “in the middle of a school week.”
The ruling means Ivanka Trump must appear in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday, as previously ordered. Her father is scheduled to testify in the case Monday.
Ms. Trump’s two adult brothers, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, both testified this week, with Eric returning to the stand Friday morning. Both Trump brothers appeared to try to distance themselves from financial statements at the center of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud case.
James alleges a decade-long scheme by Trump Sr., his adult sons, the Trump Organization and others to inflate his net worth in order to get various financial perks, including tax benefits and better loan terms.
James seeks about $250 million in damages, and wants to bar the defendants from running another New York business.
Ivanka Trump was dismissed as a party in the case earlier this year, after an appeals court found that the claims against her fell outside the statute of limitations. Trump Sr., Trump Jr. and Eric remain co-defendants.
In a one-sentence ruling Thursday night, the First Judicial Department of the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division denied Ivanka’s bid not to testify.
That decision came just hours after Ivanka’s attorney, Bennett Moskowitz, argued for a temporary stay pending their challenge of Judge Arthur Engoron’s order rejecting her request to avoid the witness stand.
Moskowitz argued that the subpoenas for her testimony were improperly served, that Engoron erred in his prior ruling, and that the court lacked jurisdiction over her because she is not a defendant and does not live in New York.
President Donald Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump walk toward Marine One before departing from the White House on June 13, 2017 in Washington, DC.
“Ms. Trump, who resides in Florida with her three minor children, will suffer undue hardship if a stay is denied and she is required to testify at trial in New York in the middle of a school week, in a case she has already been dismissed from, before her appeal is heard,” Moskowitz wrote.
The final line of that filing asked the court to pause the entire trial, which has been ongoing for a month and is expected to continue until late December.
In a response motion opposing Ivanka’s request, James called Trump’s arguments “utterly meritless.”
As a former executive vice president for development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization, Ivanka Trump “has firsthand knowledge of issues that are central to the ongoing trial,” wrote James.
The attorney general also dismissed the notion that a mandatory court appearance would subject Ivanka to undue hardship.
“Ms. Trump’s mere need to attend trial for a single day to testify truthfully is not itself a serious harm that warrants emergency relief,” the AG wrote.
Moskowitz’s reference to Ms. Trumps’ children’s school schedule as a factor in her testimony decision attracted attention online, where some legal experts noted that the Kushner family has more than ample means to afford additional childcare.
They also pointed out that during the Trump presidency, Ivanka frequently accompanied her father on both domestic and overseas trips.