New Delhi: Donald Trump refused to testify under oath, saying he was invoking the Fifth Amendment to not answer questions in the long-running New York civil investigation into his business dealings.
Trump appeared at the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday morning, but issued a statement more than an hour later saying he was refusing to answer questions because of the rights and privileges guaranteed to everyone under the US Constitution.
The former US president said anything he said during the deposition could have been used against him in a criminal case. Although the Manhattan District Attorney is conducting a parallel criminal investigation, James’ investigation is civil in nature.
Amid a flurry of legal activity surrounding the former president, Donald Trump was questioned under oath Wednesday by the New York attorney general in a long-running civil investigation into his business dealings.
Trump’s testimony came days after FBI agents searched his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and are investigating, as an unrelated federal investigator, whether he took classified information when he left the White House.
He visited the New York attorney general’s office before 9 a.m. in a multi-vehicle motorcade. Leaving Trump Tower in New York for the short trip downtown, he waved to reporters gathered outside without making a statement.
A civil investigation led by state Attorney General Letitia James focused on allegations that Donald Trump’s business, the Trump Organization, misrepresented the value of prized assets such as golf courses and towers to defraud lenders and tax authorities.
“My great company and I are being attacked from all sides,” Trump wrote on the social media platform he previously founded, Truth Social. “Banana State!”
Messages were left with James’ office and Trump’s lawyer for comment.
The timing of Trump’s testimony is crucial to the James investigation: James’ office said in May that the investigation was nearing completion and that there was a wealth of information that could be used to justify legal action against Trump, his company. or both.
One of the few remaining pieces is the Republican affidavit, which is the official term for sworn testimony outside of court, according to the attorney general’s office.
Ivanka and Donald Jr., two of Trump’s grown children, both recently testified, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. People spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to do so.
The testimony of the three Trumps was originally scheduled to take place last month but was postponed due to the July 14 death of Ivana Trump, the ex-wife of the former president and Ivanka Donald Jr.’s mother, and another son, Eric Trump. made a deposit with James’ probe in 2020.
The Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, will appear in court on Friday to seek the dismissal of tax fraud charges brought against them last year in a parallel criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney that was sparked by information obtained by a coroner. James’ office. Weisselberg and company have filed an uncontested plea.
James, a Democrat, has said in court filings that his office has uncovered “substantial” evidence that Trump’s company “used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a variety of financial benefits, including loans, insurance coverage and tax deductions.”
James cites annual financial statements submitted to banks to secure favorable loan terms and to financial journals to justify Trump’s place among the world’s billionaires as evidence for his claim that the Trump Organization overstated the value of its holdings to impress lenders or misrepresented what the land was worth. reduce the tax burden.
Even the size of Trump’s Manhattan penthouse was overstated by the company, which said it was about three times larger than it actually was, James’ office said. This represented a difference of approximately $200 million.
Trump has denied the allegations, saying that getting the highest prices is standard procedure in the real estate industry. He claims the James investigation is part of a “witch hunt” with political overtones, and that his office is “corruptly doing everything they can to disrupt my business relationships and the political process.” In addition, he accused a black man, James, of racism for continuing the investigation.
“THERE ARE NO CASES” after Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron found that James’ agency had “clear authority” to investigate Trump and other business owners, Trump said in a statement in February.
James may decide to file a lawsuit after his investigation is complete to hold Trump or his company accountable for their actions, or even ban them from participating in certain business ventures.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has been conducting a separate criminal investigation for a long time. No ex-president has ever been charged with a crime.