Trump invokes right not to self-incriminate, declines to answer questions in New York probe
Aug 11, 2022 - 07:18 AM
WASHINGTON (AA) – Former US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he invoked his right against self-incrimination in an ongoing New York state civil investigation into his business practices.
The probe is seeking to determine whether Trump and his businesses inflated the value of his properties to gain more favorable loan terms from banks, or undervalued them to slash his tax bills.
Trump on Wednesday appeared at New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office in a motorcade, releasing a statement acknowledging that he invoked the Fifth Amendment – which grants the right to avoid self-incrimination – shortly before he was set to undergo questioning.
Trump acknowledged past statements in which he implied that invoking the Fifth Amendment was a sign of guilt, but said he now knows why some people choose to do so, claiming he has “no choice” in the matter.
The ex-president said the Biden administration “and many prosecutors in this Country have lost all moral and ethical bounds of decency,” alleging a vast conspiracy against him.
“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 former president said in his statement.
“Under the advice of my counsel and for all the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afford to every citizen under the United States Constitution,” he added.
James, the state attorney general, has yet to comment publicly.
Trump’s decision comes six years after he asked: “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
The announcement comes as Trump faces a wave of legal action. He said on Monday that his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida was being raided by the FBI, calling it an unprecedented “assault.”
“My beautiful home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” he said in a statement on his Save America platform.
The FBI and the Justice Department have declined to comment on the investigation, but media reports have linked the raid to suspicions that Trump brought official materials from his time in office with him to his estate in a possible violation of federal law.
To execute Monday’s search, the FBI had to convince a judge that they had probable cause Trump had illicitly taken official documents and that it was unlikely the former president would have turned over the documents willingly. The judge would then issue a warrant.
In January, the US National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes of White House documents from Mar-a-Lago, which should have been turned over to the agency when he left the White House.
The archives later notified the US Congress that the boxes contained “items marked as classified national security information.”