Ex-President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday morning that he pleaded the Fifth Amendment during his scheduled deposition with New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) in her civil probe into the Trump Organization earlier that day.
In a lengthy screed sent via email and posted on his TRUTH Social app, Trump railed against James’ investigation, which the ex-president claimed was “a vindictive and self-serving fishing expedition.”
“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” Trump wrote. “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.”
“Accordingly, under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afford to every citizen under the United States Constitution,” he declared.
Before making his announcement, Trump fired off several video compilations of clips of James’ past criticism about the ex-president in an attempt to paint her as politically biased.
Trump hinted in his rant that he may invoke the Fifth Amendment in a litany of other investigations he is currently facing (including federal probes), stating that he plans to “utilize” the Constitution “to the fullest extent to defend myself against this malicious attack by this administration, this Attorney General’s Office, and all other attacks on my family, my business, and our Country.”
The ex-president’s deposition came after his eldest children, Ivanka and Don Jr., sat for their depositions in recent weeks. Unlike their father, however, neither of them pleaded the Fifth, according to multiple outlets.
The Trump family had spent months fighting James’ subpoena for their testimony. Their efforts ultimate failed, and the family was scheduled to testify in July.
However, the scheduled depositions were delayed after Ivana Trump, the former president’s first wife, passed away last month.
James’ investigation into the Trump Organization is centered on potential tax fraud and whether Trump falsely inflated the value of his properties to get more favorable loans.
The attorney general will not file criminal charges in her case because it is a civil investigation. But her findings could have a major impact on the parallel criminal investigation into the Trump Organization’s property valuations that the Manhattan district attorney’s office is carrying out. That could be part of why Trump chose to plead the Fifth.
Trump’s stonewalling in James’ probe comes just days after the FBI executed a raid on his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, reportedly as part of the DOJ’s investigation into whether the ex-president took potentially classified White House documents to the resort upon leaving office.