A law firm that recently cut ties with Donald Trump’s real estate company was ordered to hand over communications to New York investigators looking into whether the former president’s business manipulated the value of assets for loans and tax breaks.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP wrongly asserted attorney-client privilege over some documents subpoenaed by New York Attorney General Letitia James and must hand them over by Feb. 4, state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ruled Friday after privately reviewing the disputed documents.
“The court finds that many of the communications Morgan Lewis marked as privileged were communications addressing business tasks and decisions, not exchanges soliciting or rendering legal advice,” Engoron said in the ruling. “Similarly, any communications within Morgan Lewis speaking to public relations are of a business, not legal, nature.”
The lawyer representing Morgan Lewis in New York’s legal action, Timothy Stephens, and spokeswoman Emily Carhart didn’t immediately respond to emails and voice mails seeking comment on the ruling.
The ruling is the latest setback for theTrump Organization since James took legal action in August to enforce about half a dozen subpoenas, including one issued to former Trump tax attorney Sheri Dillon of Morgan Lewis. The investigation has emerged as one of the biggest potential threats to Trump after he left office following a failed bid for a second term.
Read More: Trump’s Tax Lawyers Cut Him Loose as New York Probe Continues
Morgan Lewis and another firm,Seyfarth Shaw LLP, earlier this month became the latest in a growing list of firms to say they’re cutting ties with Trump and his companies. Seyfarth cited the former president’s role in stoking the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, while Morgan Lewis declined to offer a reason.
A focus of the New York probe is the appraisal of Seven Springs, a property on 212 acres in Westchester County, outside New York City. James is examining whether Trump’s company gave an accurate valuation for the property when it served as the basis for about $21.1 million in tax deductions for donating a conservation easement for the 2015 tax year.
Trump’s son Eric Trump, who was also involved in the Seven Springs deal, was deposed under oath before the November election after losing an effort to delay being questioned.
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