Trump will answer questions in NY fraud lawsuit, lawyer says
Former President Donald Trump arrived at the offices of New York’s attorney general Thursday for his second deposition in a legal battle over his company’s business practices, with his lawyer signaling that he intends to answer questions this time instead of invoking his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.
“President Trump is not only willing but also eager to testify before the Attorney General today,” his attorney, Alina Habba, said in a statement. “He remains resolute in his stance that he has nothing to conceal, and he looks forward to educating the Attorney General about the immense success of his multi-billion dollar company.”
The Republican was meeting with lawyers for Attorney General Letitia James, who sued Trump last year. Her lawsuit claims Trump and his family misled banks and business associates by giving them false information about his net worth and the value of assets such as hotels and golf courses.
The lawsuit is unrelated to the felony criminal charges filed against Trump by the Manhattan district attorney, which led last week to his historic arraignment, the first for a former president.
In a social media post Thursday morning, Trump called the suit “ridiculous, just like all of the other Election Interference cases being brought against me.”
He raised his fist as he left his apartment at Trump Tower, with his motorcade arriving at the attorney general’s office at around 9:42 a.m.
James declined to answer a question about the deposition at a news conference on an unrelated matter Wednesday.
Trump previously met with James’ lawyers Aug. 10, but refused to answer all but a few procedural questions, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights more than 400 times. At the time, James had not yet brought her lawsuit and it was unclear whether questions about the way Trump valued his company would become the basis of a criminal case.
“Anyone in my position not taking the Fifth Amendment would be a fool, an absolute fool,” he said in that deposition, which was recorded on video and later released publicly. Trump predicted a “renegade” prosecutor would try to make a criminal case out of his answers, if he gave them.
“One statement or answer that is ever so slightly off, just ever so slightly, by accident, by mistake, such as it was a sunny, beautiful day, when actually it was slightly overcast, would be met by law enforcement at a level seldom seen in this country, because I’ve experienced it,” he said.
Circumstances since then have changed. The criminal charges brought by the Manhattan district attorney focused on how the company accounted internally for payments to a lawyer, Michael Cohen, for his work paying off people not to go public with stories about extramarital sexual encounters Trump said were made up.
The lawsuit James brought is scheduled to go to trial in October.
Thursday’s deposition will be conducted in private.
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