Donald Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and will not answer questions under oath in the New York Attorney General’s lengthy civil investigation into his business dealings, the former president said in a statement Wednesday.
Trump arrived in a motorcade just before 9 a.m. at the office of State Attorney General Letitia James and more than an hour later “answered questions under the rights and privileges accorded to all citizens under the U.S. Constitution. I refused to do so,” he said.
“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you adopting the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” the statement said. rice field. “When your family, your company, and everyone around you becomes the target of an unsubstantiated, politically motivated witch hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors and the fake news media, you I have no choice.”
As Trump has been vocal in defending himself in written statements and at rallies, legal experts say his statements could be used in criminal investigations, so the same strategy could be used. It says it may have backfired in the deposition environment.
His decision comes just days after FBI agents searched his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida as part of an unrelated federal investigation into whether he had classified records when he left the White House. was done later.
A civil investigation led by Attorney General Letitia James found that Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misrepresented the value of valuable assets such as golf courses and skyscrapers, misleading lenders and tax authorities. Contains claims.
“My great company and myself are under attack from all sides,” Trump wrote ahead of time on Truth Social, the social media platform he founded. “Banana Republic!”
Messages seeking comment were left with James’ office and Trump’s attorneys.
In May, James’ office said the investigation was nearing its end and that investigators had gathered substantial evidence that could support legal action against Trump, his company, or both. Republican depositions (the legal term for sworn testimony not given in court) were one of the few remaining missing pieces, according to the report.
Two of Trump’s adult children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, recently testified, according to two people familiar with the matter. People were not allowed to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.
The three Trumps’ testimony was originally scheduled for last month, but was postponed after the July 14 deaths of the former president’s ex-wife Ivana Trump, Ivanka’s mother Donald Jr., and another son Eric Trump. Deposition taken in 2020 James investigation.
On Friday, the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, spurred by evidence uncovered by James’ office, filed tax fraud charges last year in the Manhattan District Attorney’s parallel criminal investigation. Weisselberg and company have pleaded not guilty.
James, a Democrat, said he had “substantial” evidence that Trump’s firms “used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a number of financial benefits, including loans, insurance and tax credits.” It says her office found it and filed it in court.
James points to the annual financial statements given to banks to secure favorable loan terms and to financial magazines to justify Trump’s position in the world. Alleges that the Trump Organization exaggerated the value of property holdings to impress lenders and misrepresented the value of land to reduce the tax burden.
The company exaggerated the size of Trump’s Manhattan penthouse, making it nearly three times its actual size, a difference in value of about $200 million, James’ office said.
Trump denied the allegations, explaining that asking for the best possible valuation was common practice in the real estate industry. “Doing everything within their corrupt discretion to interfere with my business relationships and political process,” it said. He also accuses James, who is black, of being racist in pursuing her investigation.
“There are no cases!” Trump said in a February statement after Manhattan Judge Arthur Engolon said James’ office had a “clear right” to question Trump and other executives at his firm. After ruling, he said:
Once her investigation is over, James could sue and seek financial penalties against Trump or his company, or even decide to ban them from engaging in certain types of businesses.
Meanwhile, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has long conducted parallel criminal investigations. Not even a former president has been indicted for a crime.
That investigation seemed to move toward possible criminal charges against Trump himself, but slowed after new district attorney Alvin Bragg took office in January. The chief prosecutor in charge of the investigation resigned after Bragg internally questioned the feasibility of the case.
Bragg said the investigation is ongoing, which stems from Trump’s amending self-incrimination during a deposition in the Manhattan office tower that doubles as the headquarters of the fictional conglomerate Waystar. It means that you may exercise your Section 5 rights and refuse to answer questions from Mr. James’ investigators. Royco – run by a character partially inspired by Trump – on HBO’s “Succession.”
In the fight to block the subpoena, Trump’s lawyers say New York officials are using civil investigations to obtain information for criminal investigations, and that depositions are being held before a criminal grand jury as required by state law. claimed it was a ruse to avoid summoning them. conferred immunity.
Weisselberg and Eric Trump each invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 500 times when questioned by James’ attorneys during separate depositions in 2020, according to court documents.