Trump says he took the Fifth in questioning in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ fraud investigation


Former President Donald Trump said he refused to answer questions from investigators with the New York Attorney General’s office on Wednesday, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination related to the years-long civil fraud probe into his businesses.

Trump appeared for a deposition in New York on Wednesday morning. In a statement posted to his social network after he arrived for questioning, Trump called James’ investigation “a vindictive and self-serving fishing expedition” that he claims is politically motivated.

“Accordingly, under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution,” he said.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has sought the deposition for more than half a year as Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, fought subpoenas through a trio of New York courts. They were eventually ordered to sit for depositions, and earlier this month Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump were questioned.

Former President Donald Trump departs Trump Tower on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in New York, on his way to the New York attorney general’s office for a deposition in a civil investigation.

Julia Nikhinson / AP

The subpoenas sought “testimony and documents in connection with an investigation into the valuation of properties owned or controlled by Donald J. Trump or the Trump Organization, or any matter which the Attorney General deems pertinent.”

Attorneys for James’ office have said in court that their investigation has collected evidence that Trump and his company have used “fraudulent and misleading financial statements,” inflating the valuations of assets while seeking loans and insurance coverage and deflating their value to reduce tax liability.

Trump and his company have repeatedly denied all allegations of wrongdoing.

Attorneys for James’ office have indicated during multiple court hearings this spring and summer that the investigation is nearing its conclusion.

The former president’s deposition Wednesday comes amid a time of heightened legal peril. The FBI on Monday entered his home in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, taking away boxes of documents as part of an investigation into Trump’s handling of classified material. A federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot is looking into communications between some of Trump’s closest allies, and a judge in Georgia on Tuesday ordered Trump’s former personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to appear before a special grand jury there. 

Trump has denied wrongdoing in each of those matters.

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