What President Trump’s Fifth Defense Means for New York AG’s Tish James

NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump for months called New York Attorney General Tisch James a “racist Attorney General” and said she campaigned on “how to get Donald Trump.” Stated.

Wednesday morning she caught him — at least for a deposition he fought hard to avoid.

This marked the latest chapter in James’ long-running civil investigation into whether Trump fraudulently inflated the value of properties he owns. , was to collect testimony from Trump and ascertain what he knew about alleged wrongdoing.

Ultimately, though, deposition doesn’t seem to move the needle much. declined to answer questions on WednesdayInstead, it decided to assert its Fifth Amendment right to self-incrimination.

“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you adopting the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” Trump said. “Your family, your company, and everyone around you is the target of an unsubstantiated, politically motivated witch hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors and the fake news media,” it said in a statement Wednesday. When you do, you have no choice.”

In a statement, James confirmed she was in the room when Trump refused to answer questions.

An AG spokesperson said, “While we do not comment on specific details, we can confirm that our firm filed a deposition against former President Donald Trump today.” Fifth Amendment Right to Self-Incrimination. Attorney General James will pursue wherever the facts and law lead. Our investigation continues. ”

Observers said Trump’s roundtable with James suggested the investigation was in the final stages and pointed to another recent high-profile question: 11-hour interview with James. was one of the last steps before she released a final report on his unrelated cheating.

Legal experts said the former president’s decision could give the impression among some people, including potential jurors, that he was hiding something.

“It’s about fear that if he testifies, his statements will be used against him in some sort of criminal case,” said Vincent M., professor and director of the New York Judicial Process Center at Albany Law School. Bombentl said.

And James could theoretically seize that realization.

“now [James] Boies Schiller partner Joshua Schiller said: He filed a lawsuit with the Attorney General Flexner LLP.On the other hand, “I imagine that [Trump] “Well, I won’t answer your question. This is a kangaroo court, so nobody listens to me anyway.”

That’s exactly what Trump hinted in Wednesday’s statement, linking James’ investigation to federal investigators. Looking for his Mar-a-Lago estate Earlier this week.

“If there was any doubt in my mind, the FBI’s raid on my home, Mar-a-Lago, on Monday, just two days before this deposition, cleared the uncertainty. The current administration and many prosecutors in this country have lost all boundaries of moral and ethical decency, so I have absolutely no choice,” Trump wrote.

State and federal courts have repeatedly dismissed Trump’s claims that the lawsuit was politically motivated and denied Trump’s attempts to avoid depositions.

Around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, a swarm of media followed the former president from his apartment in Midtown Trump Tower to the Attorney General’s office. Trump waved and raised his fist at onlookers and media personnel as he left for the depositions. He arrived at James’ office at 28 Liberty Street in the financial district around 9:00 am.

As passers-by gathered on the sidewalks and street corners surrounding the entrance to the skyscraper, Secret Service agents and NYPD officers patrolled the entrance to the garage containing Trump’s convoy and kept a lookout all morning. .

Despite saying he would exercise his right to oppose self-incrimination, Trump remained trapped in the attorney general’s office for several hours before finally leaving via motorcade around 3:20 p.m. Did.

Trump’s decision not to answer questions could complicate the Attorney General’s efforts to link Trump to allegations of wrongdoing.

“Whether he himself is directly related to statements alleging they are false or false or untrue on tax returns or in other matters may not be resolved without his testimony,” Shiller said. “In the absence of documentary evidence or testimony by others that ‘he told me to do so, or was directed by him,’ perhaps she specifically identified him.” We will not be able to file a lawsuit involving the

In fact, James’ office wrote in court filings earlier this year: Trump’s actual knowledge and intent of the numerous false statements and omissions made by him or on his behalf are essential elements in resolving the OAG investigation in a proper and fair manner. ”

She detailed evidence that the Trump Organization used “fraudulent or misleading asset valuations” to obtain favorable loans and other financial gains. All of the misrepresentations were included in Trump’s annual financial statements, snapshots of his assets and net worth, filed with banks and insurance companies.

The case raised the question, “If you can’t prove that he had false knowledge, can you prove he committed a violation just by signing a document?” I think,” said Shiller.

So far, at least, it’s preventing Trump from giving James ammunition.

“Had he been willing to answer questions, the investigation would have gone much better. He talks too much and gets him into trouble,” Bombentl said. “Almost certainly he would have added evidence against him. I doubt his attorney would want him to answer questions. They know what kind of person he is. The thing is to tell him to shut up.”

James withdrew from the gubernatorial race last year, seeking re-election for AG. From a political standpoint, she’s aiming for her second term in November, so she can continue to show that she’s focused on Trump’s wrongdoings, said one political analyst. the list said. seem to demonize her among his supporters.

“Donald Trump was unpopular in New York, not before he became president, not during the presidency, not after the presidency,” said a longtime Democratic strategist and poll spokesperson for the Siena University Institute. Man, Steven Greenberg said. “So this is only a political gain for James. It can’t be a political blow for her — certainly not her base.”

Joseph Spector contributed to this report.