“Under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution,” Trump stated in an announcement.

Trump was to be deposed by attorneys from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ workplace as a part of a greater than three-year civil investigation into whether or not the Trump Organization misled lenders, insurers and tax authorities by offering them deceptive monetary statements.

Trump stated in a publish on Truth Social earlier Wednesday morning that he can be “seeing” James “for a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. history! My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides. Banana Republic!”

Some Trump advisers had advocated that the previous President answer questions since he beforehand testified about his monetary statements underneath oath, whereas others warned him towards offering any solutions due to the potential authorized jeopardy he might face, individuals accustomed to the matter inform CNN. The Manhattan district attorney has a separate ongoing felony investigation into the Trump Organization.

Another consideration that had been mentioned, the individuals acquainted say, is the political implications of not answering questions as Trump is broadly anticipated to announce that he’ll run for president in 2024. While campaigning in 2016, Trump prompt not answering questions was an indication of guilt. At a marketing campaign cease in Iowa in 2016, Trump stated, “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

In his assertion Wednesday, Trump stated, “Now I know the answer to that question” and decried James’ investigation. The former President and the Trump Organization have beforehand denied any wrongdoing.

“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,” the previous President acknowledged.

The Fifth Amendment ensures that a person can’t be compelled by the federal government to present info that could be incriminating towards themselves. When a person declines to answer a query by “taking the Fifth,” she or he invokes that proper. It will not be an act of contrition.

“No person shall … be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,” the Fifth Amendment states.

In an announcement, the attorney general’s workplace confirmed that Trump took the Fifth and stated it’s going to proceed to examine.

“While we will not comment on specific details, we can confirm that today, our office conducted a deposition of former president Donald Trump,” the workplace stated. “Attorney General Letitia James took part in the deposition during which Mr. Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Attorney General James will pursue the facts and the law wherever they may lead. Our investigation continues.”

The temper was tense on the outset of the deposition, however later turned cordial {and professional}, Trump attorney Ronald Fischetti instructed CNN. Fischetti was current together with co-counsel Alina Habba, a New Jersey-based attorney who has taken over a lot of Trump’s ongoing lawsuits.

James, a Democrat, attended the primary half of the deposition and made a regular assertion in regards to the sworn testimony.

At the outset, Fischetti defined that Trump wished to testify “very badly,” however that the previous President had accepted his recommendation not to answer questions.

Under oath, Trump confirmed that he wished to testify however he wouldn’t answer questions, citing his Fifth Amendment proper towards self-incrimination. Much of his assertion used related language to the general public assertion he launched earlier Wednesday, referencing a “witch hunt” and the FBI search of his residence at Mar-a-Lago.

Assistant New York Attorney General Kevin Wallace squared off towards Trump, flanked by 10 assistant attorneys general who handed him notes in the course of the interview. The questions centered on valuations positioned on varied Trump properties that have been included within the monetary statements, in accordance to Fischetti.

When questioned in the course of the roughly four-hour deposition — not counting breaks — Trump repeatedly stated “same answer” when declining to reply by pleading the Fifth.

James left on the lunch break and Trump shook her hand as she was leaving. At the tip of the day, when Trump left, he shook the palms of the entire state attorneys, Fischetti stated.

Investigation and former depositions

In January, James’ workplace stated it discovered “significant” proof indicating the Trump Organization used false or deceptive asset valuations in its monetary statements to acquire loans, insurance coverage and tax advantages. The attorney general’s civil investigation is nearing the tip and a call over an enforcement motion might come quickly.

The showdown follows Trump’s failed try to block subpoenas for depositions from him and his youngsters, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump.

Ivanka Trump’s deposition came about final week and Trump Jr. had his deposition in late July, individuals accustomed to the matter stated.

Trump Jr., who runs the Trump Organization along with his brother Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump didn’t assert their Fifth Amendment rights and answered the state’s questions, the individuals stated. It will not be clear what they have been particularly requested or what they stated.

Their resolution breaks with Eric Trump and former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who each asserted their Fifth Amendment rights greater than 500 occasions when deposed in 2020.

Trump has testified underneath oath in civil lawsuits over the previous a long time and since leaving workplace he has additionally been deposed. Last 12 months he offered videotaped testimony for a lawsuit involving an assault outdoors of Trump Tower. The case is ready to go to trial within the fall. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

Questions about Trump’s web value

Trump has been questioned in regards to the accuracy of his web value and monetary statements in earlier lawsuits, one thing some advisers say is one motive why he ought to answer questions within the present investigation.

In a 2007 deposition in a defamation lawsuit, Trump as soon as stated he calculated his web value, to a level, on his “feelings,” and that he put the “best spin” on a few of the property. “I think everybody” exaggerates in regards to the worth of their properties, he testified, including: “Who wouldn’t?”

Did he inflate values? “Not beyond reason,” Trump stated.

In the previous Trump has tried to push accountability for his valuation selections onto Weisselberg, whereas on the identical time, paperwork and depositions seem to present that, whilst Trump claimed that he left these valuation selections to others, he was additionally deeply concerned in working his enterprise.

Trump stated within the 2007 deposition that the one particular person he handled in getting ready the statements of monetary situation was Weisselberg.

“I would give my opinion,” Trump stated within the deposition. “We’ll talk about it,” he stated, including that “ultimately” and “predominately” it was Weisselberg who got here up with the ultimate values, which Trump stated he considered as “conservative.”

When questioned particularly about swings in values from one 12 months to the subsequent Trump had prepared explanations.

During the deposition, Trump was questioned over the household compound in Westchester County, New York, known as Seven Springs the place its worth almost doubled in a single 12 months from $80 million in 2005 to $150 million in 2006.

“The property was valued very low, in my opinion, then and it became very — it just has gone up,” Trump stated.

He was requested if he had any foundation for that view, aside from his personal opinion.

“I don’t believe so, no,” he stated.

In addition to Weisselberg, two others concerned within the preparation of the monetary statements, Jeff McConney, the Trump Organization’s controller, and Donald Bender, the actual property agency’s exterior accountant, have each been interviewed by the attorney general’s workplace and Manhattan district attorney.

Trump’s attorneys are possible to argue that the monetary statements weren’t audited so anybody counting on them can be on discover. The monetary statements reviewed by CNN present they’ve quite a few disclosures indicating that they didn’t conform with usually accepted accounting ideas. In addition, not one of the lenders misplaced cash on the transactions, which might make it tougher to allege that they have been defrauded or misled.

The value determinations underlying the property values have been in lots of instances offered by Trump’s longtime appraiser Cushman & Wakefield, which is also under investigation. Cushman, which broke ties with Trump after the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, has denied any wrongdoing and stands by its work.

Legal dangers to Trump

The depositions pose vital authorized dangers to the Trumps.

If Trump is sued by James and the case goes to trial, the jury can draw an “adverse inference” towards him for not answering questions, which might end in the next judgment towards him if he is discovered liable. If he solutions questions, it might open the door to potential civil and felony legal responsibility.

Rudy Giuliani ordered to appear in front of Georgia grand jury investigating 2020 election aftermath next week

The felony investigation, led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, has slowed however not stopped. Earlier this 12 months, Bragg wouldn’t authorize prosecutors to current proof earlier than a state grand jury after elevating considerations in regards to the power of the case, CNN has reported. A particular grand jury listening to proof within the case expired in April, however a brand new one may very well be seated sooner or later.

Bragg instructed CNN in an interview in April: “Anytime you have a parallel civil, criminal investigation, if there’s testimony in that proceeding, obviously we will look at it.”

This story has been up to date with further developments.

CNN’s Ariane de Vogue and Joan Biskupic contributed to this report.

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