Former President Donald Trump said he invoked the Fifth Amendment and declined to answer questions in a long-running civil investigation by Attorney General Letitia James, involving allegations that the Trump Organization misstated the value of assets in order to mislead lenders and tax authorities.
“Under the advice of my counsel … I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution,” said Trump in a statement posted to social media.
James took legal action to compel Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump to appear for sworn testimony as part of the office’s ongoing civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s financial dealings.
“Since moving to compel the testimony of Eric Trump in August 2020, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has collected significant additional evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions,” said the New York attorney general’s office in a January 18, 2022, press release.
“For more than two years, the Trump Organization has used delay tactics and litigation in an attempt to thwart a legitimate investigation into its financial dealings,” said James at that time. “Thus far in our investigation, we have uncovered significant evidence that suggests Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit.”
“The Trumps must comply with our lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony because no one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them,” said James. “We will not be deterred in our efforts to continue this investigation and ensure that no one is above the law.”
Trump’s deposition, along with testimony by his daughter Ivanka Trump and son Donald Trump Jr., was postponed because of the July 14 death of Ivana Trump.
Trump finally appeared for the deposition two days after his Mar-a-Lago home was searched by the FBI as part of a Justice Department probe into missing records that supposed to be stored by the National Archives but instead had been illegally taken when Trump left the White House, a sore loser, weaving conspiracy theories about how he was robbed.
FBI agents executing a court-approved search warrant left Trump’s estate with about a dozen boxes. The former president surrendered another 15 boxes, including some containing classified material, in January.
In May, the New York attorney general’s office said that it was nearing the end of its probe and that investigators had amassed substantial evidence that could support legal action, such as a lawsuit, against Trump, his company or both.
FBI agents recently searched his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida as part of an unrelated federal probe into whether he took classified records when he left the White House
Attorney General Letitia James previously challenged “Trump’s blatant disregard of an unambiguous constitutional command” and her office won a legal fight to dissolve the former president’s charity foundation over fraudulent conduct.
Since 2019, Trump has been facing criminal and civil investigations into his business practices at the Trump Organization before he entered the White House.
Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., who both served as executives in the family business and worked in the White House, answered questions when they were recently deposed.
Their brother Eric Trump, who was also an executive in the family business, invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 500 times when he sat for questioning in October 2020 as a part of the same investigation.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has said a parallel criminal investigation into those practices is still underway but two prosecutors leading the investigation resigned in protest earlier this year when they learned that their newly elected boss was not willing to obtain an indictment.