Judge Orders Trump Organization To Produce Documents In Insurance Fraud Case
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump‘s claims of attorney-client privilege, which could have denied access to certain business documents sought by the New York Attorney General’s office, were denied by a New York judge.
The documents relate to whether Trump’s Seven Springs Estate, a property in Westchester County, was priced legitimately, as the Trump Organization was seeking tax benefits from New York state at the time.
New York Attorney General Tish James is leading the investigation, and is trying to determine if the property was valued incorrectly, as the state allowed the Trump Organization to take a $21 million tax deduction.
Judge Arthur Engoron ruled the documents in question, which Trump said should be kept private, as they belonged to engineers who worked with lawyers on them during the valuing of the property, did not need to be kept private.
“By December 18, 2020, the Trump Org. must produce all communications with Ralph Mastromonaco to the New York Attorney General’s office,” said Engoron. The engineer involved in the property’s valuing was Mastromonaco.
“There is no account-client privilege, and there is no engineer-developer privilege,” said Eric Haren, an employee of the attorney general’s office. Haren also claimed that the Trump Organization held no privilege over the property valuing once they submitted it to the IRS, an argument that was questioned by Engoron.
“At no time did we waive any privilege assertions,” argued Trump Organization attorney Amy Carlin. “The fact that Mastromonaco was initially retained to provide certain specific engineering work doesn’t mean that he wasn’t also ultimately performing a Kovel function.” A Kovel function is a legal term that elaborates on extending attorney-client privilege to other experts who might need to weigh in and give advice.
The investigation into Trump’s properties came as a result of testimony from his former attorney, Michael Cohen.
“It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes,” Cohen shared in February 2019, “and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.