Former U.S. President Donald Trump refused to answer questions on Wednesday based on his Fifth Amendment right during the first probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James since he left the White House. Reportedly, he ducked questions for five and a half hours while refusing to answer more than 440 times on allegations that the Trump Organization was involved in accounting frauds and tax avoidances.
Former President Trump issued a statement before joining a deposition by the Office of the New York State Attorney General to say that he will decline to answer the questions under the rights and privileges assigned to every U.S. citizen under the Constitution, reported The New York Times. He has been investigated on allegations of committing the improper valuations of various real estate assets of the Trump Organization to get more bank loans and avoiding taxes during his presidency.
Asked by New York Attorney General Letitia James what his name is, Trump said, “Donald Trump,” later calling the probe “the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country.” Afterwards, he repeatedly said "same answer."
New York Attorney General James has carried out a civil investigation into the Trump family’s involvement in accounting frauds and tax evasions while the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York has looked into the case to seek a criminal lawsuit. Trump’s refusal to answer questions in the deposition seemingly intends to protect him from perjury charges in a possible criminal lawsuit as they can put him at a greater disadvantage than otherwise.
It was reported that Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. did not take their Fifth Amendment right in the deposition last week.
Back in 2016 when former U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton was embroiled in a controversy for using her private email account to share confidential intelligence, Trump criticized that she is not supposed to take her Fifth Amendment right if she is innocent. However, he argued that he has no choice but to stay silent as he has found himself the target of a witch hunt for political reasons.
When the F.B.I. conducted a search and seizure on Trump on allegations that he compromised intelligence, the former president maintained that the authorities tried to manipulate evidence. He wrote on social media that the F.B.I. ordered everyone else to leave during the raid to make sure that no one sees what they do.