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Trump pleads the 5th in deposition with New York’s attorney general

The deposition was part of a yearslong investigation into whether Trump manipulated the valuation of his assets for financial gain

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New York Attorney General Letitia James acknowledges questions from journalists at a news conference on May 21, 2021, in New York.

New York Attorney General Letitia James acknowledges questions from journalists at a news conference on May 21, 2021, in New York. The New York attorney general’s office said its civil investigation has uncovered evidence that former President Donald Trump’s company used “fraudulent or misleading” asset valuations to get loans and tax benefits.

Richard Drew, Associated Press

Former President Donald Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment this morning in a deposition with Letitia James, attorney general of New York, declining to answer questions for a probe under civil law into his business dealings.

The fifth: Even before arriving at the deposition Trump framed the investigation as politically-motivated. In a lengthy statement posted on Truth Social, his social media site, he accused James of prosecuting him to advance her career, asserting, “I did nothing wrong.”

  • Over the past three years James and her office have scrutinized the Trump Organization to determine whether Trump manipulated the valuation of his business assets to gain financial benefits, such as loans, insurance coverage and tax deductions. 
  • In a supplemental petition filed in New York’s supreme court in January, James included preliminary findings. One of these concluded that the valuation process for Trump’s assets was done “in ways which are often inaccurate or misleading.”
  • The case dates back to a congressional hearing in 2019 where Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, said, “Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”
  • Over the years Trump has unsuccessfully filed suits to obstruct the investigation and paid a fine for not complying with a subpoena.

The hunt continues: “I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question. When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the Fake News Media, you have no choice,” said Trump in the statement.

Wednesday’s deposition was unrelated to the recent FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property.

This story has been updated with new information. It was originally posted at 10:19 a.m. ET.