Trump invokes the Fifth Amendment nearly 450 times in the NY AG’s civil investigation into his business practices

Former President Donald Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination Wednesday during a statement to lawyers for New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office in their investigation into the business practices of the ‘Trump Organization.

The deposition lasted four hours, and the only question the former president answered was about his name, Trump’s lawyer, Ron Fischetti, told NBC News.

A source with knowledge of the statement said Trump took the fifth more than 440 times.

“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why do you accept the Fifth Amendment?'” Trump said in a statement. “Now I know the answer to that question. When your family, your company, and everyone in your orbit have become the target of a baseless, politically motivated witch hunt backed by lawyers, prosecutors, and the fake news media , heu There is no option. Accordingly, under the advice of my attorney and for all of the foregoing reasons, I declined to answer the questions regarding the rights and privileges granted by the Constitution of the United States to all citizens.”

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office later confirmed that Trump had invoked the Fifth Amendment, but did not specify how many times.

“While we will not comment on specific details, we can confirm that today, our office issued a statement from former President Donald Trump,” the spokesman said in a statement. “Attorney General Letitia James took part in the deposition during which Mr. Trump took part. he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.”

Fischetti, who attended the deposition along with Trump lawyer Alina Habba, said Kevin Wallace of the New York attorney general’s office conducted all of the questioning and that James was present for two hours

James’ office is considering whether to file a civil suit against Trump and his company and has said in court filings that it has “discovered substantial evidence establishing numerous misrepresentations” in Trump’s financial statements to banks, insurers and the IRS.

The financial statements were inflated by hundreds of millions of dollars and signed by the former president, James has alleged.

Trump was asked Wednesday about ratings on various items and golf clubs, signing documents, mortgages, loans and the size of his apartment, Fischetti said, noting that he took fifth on all of those questions.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing in the investigation and has said the investigation of James, a Democrat, is politically motivated.

According to Fischetti, the former president also read a statement Wednesday in which he called the investigation “the biggest witch hunt in the history of our country” and accused James of “openly campaigning on a policy of destroying me.” .

Much of Fischetti’s account was previously reported by The New York Times.

In an earlier statement on his social media platform, Trump said he was in New York City and would see the attorney general “for a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of the United States! The my great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides. . Banana Republic!”

Trump later described the statement as “a very professional meeting.”

Trump’s two eldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, recently testified in the civil investigation. NBC News reported that Trump Jr. he was interviewed a couple of weeks ago and Ivanka spoke to investigators last week. Neither invoked Fifth Amendment protection. Sources did not confirm whether his testimony took place in person or virtually.

Earlier this week, Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate firm that appraised several Trump Organization properties, turned over nearly 36,000 documents to the attorney general.

“Attorney General James will pursue the facts and the law wherever they lead. Our investigation continues,” a spokeswoman for his office said Wednesday.

Trump’s appearance at the attorney general’s office comes after the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, with a source familiar with the matter saying the search was tied to classified information that the former president allegedly took. the White House at its Palm Beach compound in January 2021.

Zoƫ Richards contributed.

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