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Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. testify in investigation into Trump Organization finances

(CNN) — Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. sat down to testify as part of the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into the finances of the Trump Organization after months of fighting in court, people familiar with the matter told CNN.

Ivanka Trump’s closed-door deposition took place on Wednesday and Trump Jr. had his deposition on Thursday of last week, the people said. The Trumps were supposed to sit for questioning last month, but the death of her mother Ivana postponed her testimony.

Trump Jr., who runs the Trump Organization with his brother Eric Trump, did not invoke the Fifth Amendment and responded to questions from the state, one of the people said. It is not clear what he was asked or how he responded to the questions.

Former President Donald Trump is expected to testify later this month.

An attorney for Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump declined to comment, and representatives of the Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment. The New York attorney general’s office declined to comment.

The statements increase legal risks for members of the Trump family as they face two investigations, one civil and one criminal, into the accuracy of the Trump Organization’s financial statements.

The former president and the Trump Organization have previously denied any wrongdoing and have called the civil investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, politically motivated.

In January, James’ office said it had found “significant” evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used false or misleading asset valuations in its financial statements to obtain loans, insurance and tax benefits.

Trump Jr.’s decision to respond to questions from the State breaks with that of Eric Trump and former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, who asserted their Fifth Amendment rights when they were ousted in 2020.

In a civil case, the jury can draw an “adverse inference” and hold it against individuals who do not answer questions.

This is not the only calculation in play. There has been some discussion about the stigma of enforcing the Fifth Amendment and how it would play out politically, said one of the people familiar with the matter.

New York prosecutor investigates Trump Organization finances 1:45

By answering the questions, Trump Jr. increases his potential legal exposure. He was involved in several properties, including 40 Wall Street, and certified the accuracy of financial statements as early as 2017, the attorney general’s office has said. Ivanka Trump was a key link to Deutsche Bank, which lent the Trump Organization more than $300 million.

The financial statements were prepared by accountants inside and outside the Trump Organization. There is also a debate about how properties were valued, given the flexibility of appraisals. The appraisals were signed by Cushman & Wakefield, Trump’s longtime appraiser, which is also under investigation.

The company, which severed ties with Trump after January 6, 2021, denied any wrongdoing. The banks, which provided the financing, also did not lose money on the loans they took out.

The New York Attorney General’s investigation is at an advanced stage. Lawyers for the office have said publicly that they hope to take some kind of enforcement action, but would engage in talks with the Trump Organization before making a decision.

Investigators interviewed numerous current and former Trump Organization executives and employees, including former Donald Trump aide Rhona Graff and several finance and accounting department executives.

James’ office subpoenaed the Trumps late last year. They asked that court summons be blocked, arguing that they should not testify while there was a criminal investigation. The court rejected their arguments, saying that a criminal investigation does not prevent a civil investigation from obtaining evidence. The former president was also found in contempt and fined $110,000 for failing to comply with a subpoena for documents. The judge lifted the contempt order in June.

The criminal investigation, led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, has slowed but not stopped. Earlier this year, Bragg did not authorize prosecutors to present evidence to a state grand jury after raising questions about the strength of the case, CNN reported. The special grand jury reviewing evidence in the case expired in April, but a new one could be formed in the future.

Bragg told CNN in an April interview: “As long as there’s a parallel civil and criminal investigation, if there’s testimony in that proceeding, obviously we’ll look at it.”

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