Donald Trump invokes the Fifth Amendment in response to allegations of fraud within his business emp
Donald Trump, former US president, decided to use the Fifth Amendment yesterday to avoid answering inquiries about alleged fraud in his multibillion-dollar business empire.
His choice to rely on the Fifth Amendment, which forbids answering questions to prevent self-incrimination, has drawn harsh criticism.
When he was president, Mr. Trump made fun of people who invoked the Fifth Amendment, saying, "If you are innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?"
In a civil investigation into allegations that the Trump Organization "misstated" the value of its hotels, golf resorts, and assets to deceive tax authorities and lenders, Mr. Trump was deposed yesterday but refused to answer questions under oath, according to the Irish Independent.
"I have absolutely no choice [to invoke the Fifth Amendment]," he said, "because the current administration and many prosecutors in this country have lost all moral and ethical bounds of decency."
According to the New York Times, Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, claimed in a court document that Mr. Trump's company's business practices were "fraudulent or misleading." She added that her office would need to question Mr. Trump and two of his children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., to determine who was accountable.
"I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?" Mr. Trump read from a prepared statement.
He continued, "I now know the answer to that question."
The three-year civil investigation into Ms. James, which the former President dubbed a "witch hunt," came to an end with yesterday's deposition.
Ms. James issued a warning to Mr. Trump after her election in 2018: "He should know that we here in New York — and I, in particular — we are not scared of you."
As his successor as attorney general in his home state, she continued, "I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings, and every dealing, demanding truthfulness at every turn."
The current investigation by Ms. James, which was launched in March 2019, is looking into whether Mr. Trump lied about the value of his assets to gain favor with lenders and tax authorities. However, since the investigation is a civil matter, no charges can be brought against anyone.
However, a parallel criminal investigation into whether the former President falsely inflated the value of his properties is currently being carried out by the Manhattan district attorney's office.
A separate perjury investigation could have been opened if Mr. Trump had provided any contradictory evidence, which could have happened if he had chosen to respond to questions yesterday.
When defendants in civil cases invoke the Fifth Amendment, juries may infer the worst, giving Ms. James's attorneys significant leverage in settlement negotiations or the threat of potentially crippling financial sanctions from a judge.
His deposition comes just a few days after the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago estate, the first such operation in US history on the home of a former President.
After the search, Mr. Trump posted on his Truth Social social media app that "everyone was asked to leave the premises, they wanted to be alone."
"Without any witnesses to see what they were doing, taking or, hopefully not, ‘planting’," he continued.
Sources claim that several boxes have been taken from the property, along with letters from Kim Jong-un, Barack Obama, and other world leaders. Every room in the home, including Mr. Trump's master bedroom and his wife Melania's wardrobe, is said to have been searched.
The former President is rumored to have told Republican congressmen yesterday that he had "made up his mind" about running and had "enjoyed encouragement" from them. It is anticipated that he will not wait long to announce his anticipated 2024 run for president.
By fLEXI tEAM