Trump at State AG Deposition: I Plead the Fifth

Former president says he had 'no choice' but to refuse to answer questions from Letitia James' office
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2022 10:07 AM CDT
Updated Aug 10, 2022 3:29 PM CDT
Trump at State AG Deposition: I Plead the Fifth
Former President Trump departs Trump Tower on Wednesday in New York, on his way to the New York attorney general's office for a deposition in a civil investigation.   (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

(Newser) – In 2016, before he was elected president, Donald Trump famously said at a campaign rally: "If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?" On Wednesday, Trump did just that, refusing to answer questions at his own deposition in New York at the office of state Attorney General Letitia James, sources tell the New York Times. "Now I know the answer to that question," Trump said in a statement confirming he was taking the Fifth, released soon after the questioning began in James' civil probe into whether he and his company fraudulently inflated the value of assets on financial statements to acquire bank loans. Trump claimed in Wednesday's statement that "when your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt ... you have no choice."

  • More from the statement: He added that "accordingly, under the advice of my counsel ... I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution."
  • A tie-in to the raid on his Florida residence: He noted that the FBI's search Monday of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., which was legally executed with a search warrant, convinced him even more that he should remain tight-lipped during the deposition.
  • What else could be behind it: The Times notes that Trump may have decided to stay silent to avoid any trip-ups that would catch the attention of the office of the Manhattan DA, which is conducting a parallel criminal investigation into the former president and his company.
  • The family that gets deposed together: Both Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were also recently deposed and answered the state AG's questions, per CNN. Eric Trump and ex-Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg pleaded the Fifth hundreds of times during their 2020 depositions.
  • Quite a week for Trump: On Tuesday, a federal appeals court issued a blow to Trump when it ruled that the House Ways and Means Committee can obtain his tax returns from the IRS, which the former president has been trying to block for years. He can appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court, CNN reports.
  • Meanwhile: Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks tells Fox News he met with Trump Tuesday night, and that Trump has "made up his mind" about whether he will run for president again in 2024 and will make that decision known in "a matter of time."
(Read more Donald Trump stories.)

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