Former President Donald Asset Wednesday refused to answer more than 440 questions during a deposition with investigators working for the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, opting instead to invoke her Fifth Amendment right against the self-incrimination.
According to multiple reports citing sources close to what happened during Wednesday’s session, Mr Trump only answered one question – he provided his name when asked after taking the oath as a witness.
The ex-president had announced his intention to avail himself of the protections of his Fifth Amendment earlier on Wednesday at the end of a long rambling statement filled with attacks on Ms James, who has overseen a long-running investigation into whether the Mr. Trump’s eponymous real estate company violated New York tax laws.
“Under the advice of my attorney and for all of the above reasons, I have declined to answer questions about the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the Constitution of the United States,” he said. .
Shortly after posting on his own social media platform about his arrival at Ms James’ ‘very lavish, beautiful and expensive’ offices, the ex-president sent the statement through his funded post-presidential office by the government.
Beneath an image of the Great Seal of the United States, Mr Trump accused the Empire State’s chief prosecutor of “mak[ing] a career” of “attacking” him and his company and being “a failed politician who intentionally colluded with others” to “carry out this years-long bogus crusade that wasted countless US dollars.” taxpayers”.
“What Letitia James has attempted to do for the past three years is an embarrassment to the legal system, an affront to the taxpayers of New York State, and a violation of the solemn rights and protections afforded by the Constitution of the United States” , said Mr. Trump, who added that he “did nothing wrong”.
Mr Trump, who once suggested that invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination was in itself proof of criminality, said he now understood why one would ‘take the Fifth’ if he was innocent .
“When your family, your business, and everyone in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated witch hunt backed by lawyers, prosecutors, and the fake media, you have no choice,” he said. he explained, adding that the FBI’s search of his residence in Palm Beach, Florida, as part of a federal investigation into whether he violated laws against the theft of government documents and unlawful possession of classified information “erased any uncertainty” about whether he would refuse to answer questions on grounds that he might incriminate himself.
“I have absolutely no choice because the current administration and many prosecutors in this country have lost all moral and ethical boundaries of decency,” he said.
Mr Trump’s refusal to answer questions could shield him from criminal liability in any cases brought as a result of Ms James’ investigation (although under New York law she herself cannot not initiate criminal proceedings against him or his company).
But because the New York attorney general’s investigation is taking place in civilian court, legal experts say his decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment could be used against him if Ms James sues him or his company at the continuation of the investigation.