Former President Donald Trump said he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination Wednesday during a deposition before lawyers from New York Attorney General Letitia James‘ office in its probe into the Trump Organization’s business practices.
“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?'” Trump said in a statement. “Now I know the answer to that question. When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the Fake News Media, you have no choice. 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.”
James’ office is considering whether to file a civil suit against Trump and his company and has said in court filings that it has “uncovered 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 off on by the former president, James has alleged.
The former president has denied wrongdoing and has claimed that the probe by James, a Democrat, is politically motivated.
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 U.S. history! My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides. Banana Republic!”
Trump’s two eldest children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, recently testified in the civil probe. NBC News reported Trump Jr. was interviewed a couple of weeks ago and Ivanka spoke to investigators last week. Neither of them pleaded the Fifth Amendment’s protection. Sources did not confirm whether their testimony took place in person or virtually.
Earlier this week, Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate firm that appraised several Trump Organization properties, handed over nearly 36,000 documents to the attorney general.
Trump’s appearance the attorney general’s office comes in the wake of the FBI searching Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, with a source familiar with the matter telling NBC News that the search was tied to classified information Trump allegedly took with him from the White House to his Palm Beach resort in January 2021.
Rebecca Shabad contributed.