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New York State Attorney General Postpones Depositions as Ex-President’s Family Mourns Death of Ivana Trump

Ivana Trump

Ivana Trump arrives for Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research Angel Ball 2017, at Cipriani Wall Street on October 23, 2017, in New York.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) postponed the depositions of Donald Trump and two of his adult children following the death of the former president’s first wife.

“In light of the passing of Ivana Trump yesterday, we received a request from counsel for Donald Trump and his children to adjourn all three depositions, which we have agreed to,” the attorney general’s spokesperson Delaney Kempner wrote in a statement. “This is a temporary delay and the depositions will be rescheduled as soon as possible. There is no other information about dates or otherwise to provide at this time.”

“We offer our condolences to the Trump family,” she added.

Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., and his daughter Ivanka Trump had been scheduled to be deposed on Friday, in connection with the attorney general’s investigation into whether the Trump Organization improperly inflated or deflated assets to obtain tax benefits.

That was before Ivana Trump, a Czech American businesswoman who was the former president’s first wife, died on Thursday at the age of 73. The New York Times reported that police are investigating whether she fell down the stairs of her Upper East Side townhouse in what appeared to be an accident. There were no signs of forced entry into her home, according to the paper.

In her obituary, Ivana Trump was remembered as being every bit the media celebrity as her ex-husband during their marriage. She created the branding “the Donald,” relishing her role as half of the 1980s power couple and boasting to the press “in fifty years, we will be the Rockefellers.” She maintained a close relationship with her ex-husband even after their contentious divorce, when tabloids ran articles that Trump flaunted his affair with Marla Maples, who would become his second wife. Ivana Trump once accused her ex-husband of rape, but she later backed off from those allegations.

The attorney general’s investigation was sparked by congressional testimony by Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen that the Trump Organization cooked the books in order to obtain tax benefits. Trump repeatedly tried to forestall his deposition, trying unsuccessfully to quash his subpoenas. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ruled that, in light of Cohen’s public testimony, failing to investigate Trump would have been a “blatant dereliction of duty” by the attorney general.

“In the final analysis, a State Attorney General commences investigating a business entity, uncovers copious evidence of possible financial fraud, and wants to question, under oath, several of the entities’ principals, including its namesake,” Engoron wrote. “She has the clear right to do so.”

Following that ruling, Trump appealed the matter up to New York’s highest court — and failed.

Trump’s lawyers claimed that the deposition is unfair because the New York attorney general’s office has been cooperating with the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal investigation. If the former president or his adult children assert their Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination, that cannot be used against them in a criminal proceeding, but they could potentially be used in a civil case to draw an adverse inference against them.

Trump’s other son Eric Trump, who already has been deposed, asserted his Fifth Amendment right more than 500 times during his testimony, the attorney general said.

(Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."