Trump cites the Fifth Amendment and refuses to answer questions from the New York AG

Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower to meet with New York Attorney General Letitia James for a civil investigation on August 10, 2022 in New York City.

James Devaney | Images Gc | Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump said he declined to answer questions Wednesday in a statement by New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigators as part of their civil probe into the Trump Organization.

Trump announced in an emailed statement that he had invoked his Fifth Amendment right against making self-incriminating statements shortly after arriving for the court-ordered interview under oath at James’ offices in New York City.

“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why do you accept the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” Trump said in that furious statement, which claimed James is a renegade prosecutor with a vendetta against him and his firm.

“When your family, your company, and everyone in your orbit has become the target of a baseless, politically motivated witch hunt backed by lawyers, prosecutors, and the Fake News Media, you don’t have no choice,” Trump said.

“Accordingly, under the advice of my attorney and for all of the foregoing reasons, I declined to answer questions about the rights and privileges granted by the United States Constitution to all citizens,” he said.

A spokeswoman for James did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s move, which comes six years after he suggested that people who cite the Fifth Amendment when questioned are guilty of something.

The attorney general is focused on allegations that the Trump Organization misreported the stated valuations of some of its real estate assets to obtain financial gain, in the form of better loan and insurance terms and tax benefits.

Trump’s statement came two days after the FBI, in an unrelated criminal investigation, raided his home at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., and seized what his lawyer has said which were a few dozen boxes of documents.

That search was related to an ongoing investigation into whether laws were broken when boxes of White House records, which included some documents marked classified, ended up at Mar-a-Lago instead of the National Archives.

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge in his February ruling ordering Trump and two of his adult children for questioning by James’ team noted that they “would have the right to refuse to answer any question they claim might incriminate them.”

Judge Arthur Engoron also wrote that if the Trumps invoked the Fifth Amendment, their refusal to answer questions cannot be used against them in a criminal trial.

But Engoron went on to point out that a jury in a civil case can draw “an adverse inference” when a party to the case “invokes this right against self-incrimination.” In other words, James could argue to a jury that it should assume that Trump has acknowledged his claims against him by refusing to answer their questions.

The Trumps had asked Engoron to block the subpoenas, or at least stay their enforcement pending the conclusion of a parallel criminal investigation of the Trump Organization by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he walks to a vehicle in New York City on August 10, 2022. Donald Trump refused to answer questions under oath in New York on Wednesday about alleged fraud to his family business, as legal pressures mount for the former US president. president whose home was raided by the FBI just two days ago.

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

Trump has denied wrongdoing in all pending investigations into him.

Trump said he decided he had “absolutely no choice” but to plead the fifth in James’ deposition after the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago “because the current administration and many prosecutors in this country has lost all moral and ethical limits of decency.

In a post on her social media platform early Wednesday, she also accused James, who is black, of being “racist,” an accusation she has also previously made against her and two other black prosecutors who are investigating her for separate

Trump and two of his adult sons, Donald Jr. and Ivanka Trump, had for months resisted complying with James’ subpoenas seeking their testimony under oath for his investigation.

But after failing in court efforts to block those subpoenas, Donald Jr. and Ivanka answered questions from James’ investigators last week.

Neither Donald Trump Jr., who runs the Trump Organization with his brother Eric, nor his sister Ivanka Trump invoked their Fifth Amendment rights when questioned last week by James’ investigators, according to reports previously NBC. Ivanka Trump is a former Trump Organization executive who served as a senior White House adviser during her father’s administration.

Eric Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment more than 500 times when he was questioned under oath in the investigation in October 2020, according to a court filing in January

While campaigning for president in 2016, Trump in a speech in Iowa criticized some staff members of his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for themselves invoking the Fifth Amendment when questioned by a select committee of the House investigating the attack on American diplomatic facilities. in Benghazi, Libya.

“So there are five people taking the Fifth Amendment. How do you see the mob, right? You see the mob taking the Fifth. If you’re innocent why do you take the Fifth Amendment?” Trump asked at the time.

Trump’s refusal to testify Wednesday made even more dramatic a week that began with what is believed to be the first search of a former president’s residence by federal law enforcement agents as part of a criminal investigation.

Monday’s raid sparked a political firestorm, with Republicans harshly criticizing the FBI – which is led by Director Chris Wray, a Trump appointee – and demanding answers about the motives of Attorney General Merrick Garland, a candidate for President Joe Biden.

The Justice Department has not released details about the search warrant the FBI executed.

Legal experts say Trump’s lawyers are in possession of a copy of that search warrant and could reveal its contents if they wanted to. The warrant and a related affidavit in support would detail what the FBI was looking for and how the agency believed there was probable cause that a crime or crimes related to that evidence had been committed.

But Trump’s team has no plans to release a copy of the order, a source close to Trump told NBC News.

Trump and his family and business are the focus of multiple active state and federal investigations.

In addition to the probe into records at Mar-a-Lago, the Justice Department is investigating the events leading up to the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot by thousands of Trump supporters, who for hours disrupted the confirmation of Biden’s electoral victory by a joint session of Congress.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office last year charged the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer with a criminal scheme to evade taxes on compensation paid to executives.

In Georgia, a special state grand jury is investigating possible criminal efforts by Trump and others to interfere in that state’s 2020 presidential election as part of a national push to overturn Biden’s victory in the race for the White House.

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court in Washington, DC, upheld a lower court ruling that threw out an effort by Trump to block the House Ways and Means Committee from obtaining several years of his testimony. federal income taxes and those of a number of Trump business entities from the Treasury Department.

The committee has said it wants those records to review how the IRS is complying with a law that requires annual audits of the tax returns of sitting presidents.


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About the Author: Chaz Cutler

My name is Chasity. I love to follow the stock market and financial news!