Donald Trump, a former US president, has claimed he declined to comment on the New York probe into the financial dealings of his family. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump made an appearance at the New York attorney general’s office. To obtain advantageous loans and tax benefits, state officials accuse the Trump Organization of lying to them about the worth of its properties. Mr. Trump has called the civil inquiry a witch hunt and has denied any misconduct.
After being photographed arriving at the Manhattan location where he was questioned under oath, Mr. Trump issued a statement in which he criticized Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, and the inquiry as a whole. Years of labor and tens of millions of dollars had been expended in vain on this protracted drama, he claimed. Following the rights and benefits guaranteed to every citizen by the United States Constitution, I chose not to respond to the questions.
In connection with another investigation that is related to his handling of sensitive material, the FBI issued an unusual search order at his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, just days before his deposition. While the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is conducting a parallel investigation that may lead to criminal charges, the attorney general’s investigation is civil.
Legal experts speculate that Mr. Trump may have opted not to respond to inquiries on Wednesday because his responses might have been used against him in that criminal probe. The Fifth Amendment, which prevents anyone from being forced to testify against themselves in a criminal prosecution, was cited by the former president. According to Ms. James’s office, the depositions—a legal term for testimony provided outside of court—were among the final steps in the investigation that needed to be taken. The attorney general may decide to file a lawsuit after the investigation is finished to pursue monetary sanctions against Mr. Trump or his business.
While the Trump family rejected subpoenas through the New York court system, the attorney general had been requesting Mr. Trump’s deposition and that of two of his children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., for more than six months.
To stop Ms. James from questioning the former president and his children, Mr. Trump’s attorneys also attempted to file a lawsuit against her. However, a New York Supreme Court justice decided in February that all three must take depositions. Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka were questioned earlier this month.