Donald Trump sat for questioning on Wednesday as part of the state of New York’s long-running probe into his company’s business practices. The only question he actually answered, however, was about his name.
The New York Times reported that the former president sat across from New York Attorney General Letitia James for hours today, confirming his name before repeatedly invoking the Fifth Amendment. He said “same answer” over and over again, according to Ronald Fischetti, one of his lawyers. The testimony lasted over six hours, including several breaks.
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The former president said in a statement prior to sitting for questioning that he planned to plead the Fifth Amendment, claiming he has to because “the current Administration and many prosecutors in this Country have lost all moral and ethical bounds of decency.”
Trump, who once indicated innocent people don't plead the Fifth, defends doing so while sitting with lawyers from New York Attorney General Letitia James' office. "I once asked, 'If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?' Now I know the answer to that question." pic.twitter.com/xdUck1GiED
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) August 10, 2022
Trump has previously criticized those who exercise their Fifth Amendment rights. “You see the mob takes the Fifth,” the former president said during a 2016 campaign rally in Iowa. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
Trump confirmed he would be testifying while railing against the investigation in a Truth Social post on Tuesday. “In New York City tonight. Seeing racist N.Y.S. Attorney General tomorrow, for a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. history!” he wrote. “My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides. Banana Republic!”
The testimony comes two days after the FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, and a day after an appeals court ruled that the IRS must turn his tax returns over to the House Ways and Means Committee. The New York investigation into his business practices focuses on whether the Trump Organization fraudulently inflated the value of its assets in order to secure loans, while at the same time decreasing their value for tax purposes. New York Attorney General Letitia James has personally implicated Trump and members of his family in the alleged fraud.
Trump has long been attacking James as “racist,” presumably because she is a Black person investigation Trump and his white family. The probe is civil so cannot result in criminal charges, but it is playing out alongside a criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. The two offices are collaborating, and so anything Trump says under oath on Wednesday could aide the DA’s investigation, which has been fraught.
James’ investigation is said to be in its closing stages, but Trump and his circle have plenty of other legal trouble. The Jan. 6 committee is continuing to scrutinize their potential role in the Capitol attack, as is the Justice Department. The DA’s office in Fulton County, Georgia, is also investigating Trump and his allies’ alleged effort to tamper with the state’s election results. Rudy Giuliani was ordered by a judge on Tuesday to find a way to get to Georgia to testify in that probe on Aug. 17.
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