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Trump cites Fifth Amendment, refuses to reply Latest York AG questions

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Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower to fulfill with Latest York Attorney General Letitia James for a civil investigation on August 10, 2022 in Latest York City.

James Devaney | Gc Images | Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump said he refused to reply questions Wednesday at a deposition by investigators for Latest York Attorney General Letitia James as a part of her civil probe into the Trump Organization.

Trump announced in an emailed statement he had invoked his Fifth Amendment right against making self-incriminating statements shortly after arriving for the court-ordered interview under oath at James’ offices in Latest York City.

“I once asked, ‘In the event you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I do know the reply to that query,” Trump said in that furious statement, which claimed James is a renegade prosecutor with a vendetta against him and his company.

“When your loved ones, your organization, and all of the people in your orbit have grow to be the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the Fake News Media, you will have no alternative,” Trump said.

“Accordingly, under the recommendation of my counsel and for all the above reasons, I declined to reply the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to each citizen under the USA Structure,” he said.

A spokeswoman for James didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on Trump’s move, which got here six years after he suggested that folks who cite the Fifth Amendment when being questioned are guilty of something.

The attorney general is concentrated on allegations that the Trump Organization improperly reported the stated valuations of a few of its real estate assets for financial gain, in the shape of higher terms on loans and insurance, and tax advantages.

Trump’s deposition got here two days after the FBI, in an unrelated criminal investigation, raided his home on the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, and seized what his attorney has said were a couple of dozen boxes of documents.

That search was related to an ongoing investigation into whether laws were broken when boxes of White House records — which included some documents marked as classified — ended up at Mar-a-Lago as an alternative of the National Archives.

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge in his February ruling ordering Trump and two of his adult children to undergo questioning by James’ team noted they’d “have the precise to refuse to reply any questions that they claim might incriminate them.”

Judge Arthur Engoron also wrote that if the Trumps invoked the Fifth Amendment, their refusal to reply questions can’t be used against them in a criminal prosecution

But Engoron went on to notice that a jury in a civil case is allowed to attract “a negative inference” when a celebration to the case “invokes that right against self-incrimination.” In other words, James could argue to a jury that it should assume Trump has conceded her claims against him by refusing to reply her questions.

The Trumps had asked Engoron to dam the subpoenas, or no less than stay their enforcement until the conclusion of a parallel criminal probe of the Trump Organization by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Former US President Donald Trump waves while walking to a vehicle in Latest York City on August 10, 2022. Donald Trump on Wednesday declined to reply questions under oath in Latest York over alleged fraud at his family business, as legal pressures pile up for the previous president whose house was raided by the FBI just two days ago.

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

Trump has denied wrongdoing in all of the pending probes involving him.

Trump said he decided he had “absolutely no alternative” but to plead the Fifth in James’ deposition following the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago “because the present Administration and lots of prosecutors on this Country have lost all ethical and moral bounds of decency.”

In a post on his social media platform early Wednesday, he also accused James, who’s Black, of being “racist,” a charge he has also previously leveled at her and two other Black prosecutors who’re individually investigating him.

Trump and two of his adult children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka Trump, for months had resisted complying with subpoenas from James demanding their testimony under oath for her probe.

But after failing in court efforts to dam those subpoenas, Donald Jr. and Ivanka answered questions from James’ investigators last week.

Neither Donald Trump Jr., who runs the Trump Organization together with his brother Eric, nor their sister Ivanka Trump invoked their Fifth Amendment rights once they were questioned last week by James’ investigators, NBC has previously reported. Ivanka Trump is a former Trump Organization executive, who served as a senior White House advisor during her father’s administration.

Eric Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right greater than 500 times when he was questioned under oath within the probe in October 2020, in response to a court filing in January.

While campaigning for president in 2016, Trump in a speech in Iowa blasted some staffers of his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for themselves invoking the Fifth Amendment once they were questioned by a select House committee investigating the attack on American diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

“So there are five people taking the Fifth Amendment. Such as you see on the mob, right? You see the mob takes the Fifth. In the event you’re innocent why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” Trump asked at the moment.

Trump’s refusal to testify Wednesday made much more dramatic every week that began with what’s believed to be the first-ever search of a former president’s residence by federal law enforcement agents as a part of a criminal probe.

Monday’s raid sparked a political firestorm, with Republicans harshly criticizing the FBI — which is led by Director Chris Wray, a Trump appointee — and demanding answers concerning the reasons for it from Attorney General Merrick Garland, a nominee of President Joe Biden.

The Department of Justice has not revealed details concerning the search warrant that the FBI executed.

Legal experts say Trump’s lawyers are in possession of a replica of that search warrant, and, in the event that they wanted could disclose its contents. The warrant and a related affidavit in support of it could detail what the FBI was in search of, and the way the agency believed there was probable cause that a criminal offense or crimes had been committed that related to that evidence.

But Trump’s team doesn’t plan to release a replica of the warrant, a source near Trump told NBC News.

Trump and his family and business are the main focus of multiple energetic investigations on the state and federal level.

Along with the probe of records at Mar-a-Lago, the Justice Department is reportedly investigating events resulting in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot by hundreds of Trump supporters, who for hours disrupted the confirmation of Biden’s electoral victory by a joint session of Congress.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office last 12 months charged the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer with a criminal scheme to evade taxes in compensation paid to executives.

In Georgia, a special state grand jury is investigating possible criminal efforts by Trump and others to meddle in that state’s presidential election in 2020 as a part of a nationwide push to overturn Biden’s victory within the race for the White House.

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., upheld a lower court ruling dismissing an effort by Trump to dam the House Ways and Means Committee from obtaining several years of his federal income tax returns and people of a variety of Trump business entities from the Treasury Department.

The committee has said it wants those records to review how the IRS is complying with a law that requires annual audits of the tax returns of sitting presidents.

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