The New York attorney general’s office has subpoenaed Donald Trump’s longtime executive assistant and plans to question her under oath next week as part of its civil investigation into the former president’s business dealings.
The subpoena for Rhona Graff was disclosed by a lawyer for the attorney general Letitia James’ office in court papers opposing Trump’s latest bid to rid himself of a contempt of court order for being slow to respond to a subpoena for documents and other evidence.
Graff’s deposition is scheduled for 31 May, special litigation counsel Andrew Amer said in the court filing.
Amer said James’ office plans to ask Graff about a variety of issues, including Trump’s involvement in the preparation of annual financial statements that have been a focus of the attorney general’s investigation.
Graff left Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, in April 2021, but was among several people involved in keeping his records who provided affidavits to Trump’s lawyers late Friday as they sought to have his contempt order lifted.
Graff, who started working for Trump in 1987, has been described as his gatekeeper and right hand. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, wrote in his book that she had her own office at Trump Tower with a large filing cabinet containing folders on various issues pertaining to Trump.
Amer said James’ office wants to question Graff under oath, in part, because her affidavit only described the company’s retention and preservation practices for some of Trump’s records, and lacked detail about how his statements of financial condition were handled.
“Did (Trump) ever review the statement in draft form before he signed the final version each year?” Amer wrote, listing questions left unanswered by Graff’s affidavit.
“Did he annotate any drafts with comments and/or questions?” Amer continued. “If so, what happened to those drafts? In what form was the final version of the statement presented for Mr Trump’s approval in each year? How did he make his approval clear? Ms Graff’s affidavit does not say.”
A message seeking comment was left with a lawyer who represented Graff in past legal matters.
James has said her three-year probe uncovered evidence the Trump Organization misstated the value of assets such as skyscrapers and golf courses on financial statements for more than a decade. Trump denies the allegations and has called James’ investigation “racist” and a politically motivated “witch hunt”.
Judge Arthur Engoron declared Trump in contempt on 25 April and fined him $10,000 per day after the former president failed to produce any documents to satisfy a 31 March deadline to meet the terms of the New York attorney general’s subpoena.
That subpoena sought records pertaining to Trump’s annual financial statements, development projects, even communications with Forbes magazine, where he worked to burnish his image as a wealthy businessman.
Once Graff testifies, Amer said the attorney general’s office will advise Engoron if she’s provided satisfactory testimony, answering questions not addressed in her affidavit, and whether Trump’s contempt order should then be lifted.