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Took the Fifth Amendment in NY investigation: Trump

  New Delhi: Refusing to the testimony under oath, Donald Trump said he invoked the Fifth Amendment wouldn’t answer questions in the long-running New York civil probe of his business dealings. Trump showed up at the offices of New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday morning, but he put out a statement more than […]

Edited By : Vikas Kumar | Updated: Aug 10, 2022 20:34 IST
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New Delhi: Refusing to the testimony under oath, Donald Trump said he invoked the Fifth Amendment wouldn’t answer questions in the long-running New York civil probe of his business dealings.

Trump showed up at the offices of New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday morning, but he put out a statement more than an hour later stating he declined to answer the questions because of the rights and privileges guaranteed to every person by the US Constitution.

Former US president said anything he said during deposition could have been used against him in a criminal case. While the Manhattan district attorney is running a parallel criminal inquiry, James’ investigation is civil in character.

In a flurry of legal activity surrounding the former president, Donald Trump was being questioned under oath on Wednesday in the long-running civil probe into his business operations by the New York attorney general.

Trump’s testimony came a few days after FBI agents conducted search into his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida into an unrelated federal probe whether he took any classified records when he left the White House.

He paid a visit to the New York attorney general’s office before 9 am in a multivehicle motorcade. While leaving Trump Tower in New York City for the short ride downtown, he waved to the journalists who gathered outside without making any statement.

The civil probe, led by state Attorney General Letitia James, focused on claims that Donald Trump’s business, the Trump Organisation, misrepresented the value of prized assets like golf courses and towers in order to deceive lenders and tax authorities.

“My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides,” Trump wrote beforehand on Truth Social, the social media platform he founded. “Banana Republic!”

Messages were left with James’ office and Trump’s attorney for comment.

The timing of Trump’s testimony is crucial for James’ investigation: James’ office announced in May that the investigation was about to come to a close and that there was a wealth of information that might be used to justify legal action against Trump, his business, or both.

One of the few remaining parts is the Republican’s deposition, which is the formal term for sworn testimony provided outside of court, according to the attorney general’s office.

Ivanka and Donald Jr., two of Trump’s grown children, both gave testimony recently, according to two persons with knowledge of the situation. The people spoke under the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to do so.

The testimony from the three Trumps was originally scheduled for last month but was postponed following the death on July 14 of Ivana Trump, the ex-wife of the former president and mother of Ivanka, Donald Jr., and another son, Eric Trump, who took a deposition in James’ probe in 2020.

The Trump Organization and its longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, will appear in court on Friday to request the dismissal of tax fraud charges that were brought against them last year in the parallel criminal investigation launched by the Manhattan district attorney and sparked by information obtained by James’ office. Weisselberg and the business have entered a no contest plea.

James, a Democrat, has said in court filings that her office has uncovered “significant” evidence that Trump’s company “used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.”

James cites annual financial statements provided to banks to secure favourable loan terms and to financial magazines to justify Trump’s place among the world’s billionaires as evidence for his claim that the Trump Organization overstated the value of its holdings to impress lenders or misrepresented what land was worth to reduce its tax burden.

Even Trump’s Manhattan penthouse’s size was overstated by the corporation, which said it was roughly three times the size it actually was, James’ office said. This represented a difference in worth of about $200 million.

Trump has refuted the accusations, saying that obtaining the highest prices is a standard procedure in the real estate sector. He claims that James’ probe is a component of a “witch hunt” with political overtones and that her office is “doing all in their corrupt power to interfere with my commercial relationships and with the political process.” Additionally, he charged James, a Black man, with racism for continuing the probe.

“THERE IS NO CASE”, After Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron determined that James’ agency had “the clear authority” to examine Trump and other firm owners, Trump issued a statement in February.

James may decide to file a lawsuit after her inquiry is complete in order to hold Trump or his corporation accountable for their actions, or even to forbid them from engaging in particular business ventures.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has been conducting a separate criminal inquiry for a long time. No ex-president has ever ever been accused of a crime.

First published on: Aug 10, 2022 08:34 PM IST

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