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Trump pleads the Fifth in civil probe by NY Attorney General who vowed to 'get out and destroy' him

"I once asked, 'If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?' Now I know the answer to that question," wrote Trump in a statement.

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Former President Donald Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment on Wednesday, using his constitutional right to not answer questions under oath in the New York attorney general's civil investigation into his business dealings

Trump arrived at state Attorney General Letitia James' offices shortly before 9 am, before announcing that he "declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution." The investigation involves allegations that the Trump Organization misstated the value of prized assets such as golf courses and skyscrapers in an effort to mislead lenders and tax authorities, reported the Associated Press.

"I once asked, 'If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?' Now I know the answer to that question," wrote Trump in a statement posted to his social media platform, Truth Social. "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."

"Attorney General Letitia James openly campaigned on the policy of 'Get and Destroy' Trump," the statement reads. "...James developed a political platform and made a career out of maliciously attacking me and my business before she was even elected, or reviewed one of the millions of pages of documents we willingly produced."

James, a Democrat, did campaign on bringing down Trump when she was running for office. In a video posted to Twitter by the former president's son, Eric Trump, James is seen yelling "Bring him down!," "His days are numbered!," and "Defeating Donald Trump; nothing else matters."  

Earlier this year, James' office claimed that it was nearing the end of its probe, and that the evidence could support legal action against Trump, his company, or both.

"There's clearly been a substantial amount of evidence amassed that could support the filing of an enforcement proceeding, although the final determination on filing that proceeding has yet to be made," Andrew Amer, a New York assistant attorney general, said during a court hearing in May.

In January, James said that her office "uncovered significant evidence that suggests Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit." Trump's deposition was one of the few remaining pieces, the attorney general's office said.

Two of Trump’s adult children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, have recently testified, anonymous sources said to the Associated Press. It’s unclear whether they invoked the Fifth Amendment during their depositions. When their brother, Eric, was deposed in the same investigation in 2020, he invoked the Fifth more than 500 times, according to court documents.

Wednesday's events unfolded as a storm of legal activity surrounds the former president. Just days before, FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida as part of an unrelated federal probe into whether he took classified records when he left the White House.

On Friday, the Trump Organization and its longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, will be in court seeking the dismissal of tax fraud charges brought against them last year in the Manhattan district attorney's criminal probe, spurred by evidence uncovered by James' civil investigation. Weisselberg and the company have pleaded not guilty.

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