A New York appeals court appeared skeptical on Wednesday of former President Trump’s effort to challenge a state attorney general subpoena demanding his testimony.

During a hearing, a panel of judges on the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division seemed unpersuaded by Trump’s attorney, who argued that the civil subpoena was improper in part because it would complicate the former president’s right against self-incrimination amid a separate criminal investigation.

Justice Rolando Acosta repeatedly questioned whether the state judiciary has the authority to intervene in such an investigation on Trump’s behalf.

“You’re asking us to eliminate dozens of years of precedent, to somehow act like a legislature and say, ‘Let’s constrain the powers that the legislature has given you to prosecute civilly and criminally,'” Acosta said.

Trump is asking the appeals court to overturn a judge’s order that he and his two oldest children sit for a deposition with the attorney general’s office.

Arthur Engoron, the lower court judge, had ruled in February against Trump’s effort to block the subpoena, saying New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) was within her rights to seek both documents and testimony from the former president and his family as her office investigates potential fraud within his company.

“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. She has the clear right to do so,” Engoron wrote in his decision.

Last month, Engoron also found Trump in contempt and fined him $10,000 a day for failing to comply with aspects of the subpoena that were not part of the appeal, specifically the demands for business documents within his control.

Prior to the appeals court hearing on Wednesday, Engoron lifted the contempt ruling on the condition that Trump pay more than $100,000 in fines to James’s office.

Trump’s legal team is arguing in its appeal that the attorney general’s subpoenas should be blocked because of the joint criminal investigation into his company that James’s office is participating in with the Manhattan district attorney (DA). The attorney general’s civil subpoena, they argue, is circumventing the grand jury process for criminal investigations and jeopardizing Trump’s constitutional rights.

“They have never denied that whatever information they get under the guise of this civil subpoena is going to go right to the DA’s office,” Trump’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, said during Wednesday’s hearing.

Judith Vale, a lawyer with the attorney general’s office, countered that there is nothing unusual about parallel civil and criminal investigations and said the Trumps are free to invoke their rights against self-incrimination during a deposition.

“Under state and federal law the privilege against self-incrimination is a shield against being compelled to incriminate yourself,” Vale said. “It is not a sword that can be used to quash a civil investigative subpoena.”

It’s unclear when the appeals court will decide the case.

Both parties will face off in court again on Friday, when James’s office will ask a federal judge to throw out Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block the investigation.

Tags Arthur Engoron Letitia James Letitia James

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