NEW YORK — Ex-President Donald Trump refused to answer questions Wednesday from the New York attorney general’s office Wednesday in the latest twist in an ongoing civil investigation into his real estate business.
“Under the advice of my counsel … I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Consitution,” the former Manhattan mogul said in a statement after invoking his Fifth Amendment rights.
“This is a vindictive and and self-serving expedition, the likes of which this country has never seen before,” he continued. “The United States Constitution exists for this very purpose, and I will use it to the fullest to defend myself against this malicious attack.”
Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. had earlier fought a February order by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron requiring they sit for questioning under oath as part of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ probe of the Trump Organization.
But an appeals court ruled in May that Trump and his two children needed to sit for questioning.
“Seeing racist N.Y.S. Attorney General tomorrow, for a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. history!” Trump wrote Tuesday on his Truth Social account. “My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides. Banana Republic!”
The former president was seen leaving Trump Tower in Midtown about 8:30 a.m., according to a New York Times’ live blog. He waved to a few onlookers, some chanting loudly “Lock him up!” before getting in a black Suburban.
A half-hour later, his motorcade arrived in downtown Manhattan at the Liberty St. office of the New York attorney general. Secret Service agents and NYPD officers were stationed outside the attorney general’s office as Trump’s Suburban rolled into a parking garage.
An email to the attorney general’s office for comment on the deposition was not immediately returned Wednesday.
Trump’s deposition comes two days after the FBI executed a search warrant at the former commander-in-chief’s Palm Beach, Florida, home as part of an investigation into the handling of presidential and classified documents that may have been taken from the White House, according to reports.
Trump, who was in New York when the raid took place, confirmed that FBI agents searched the sprawling beachfront compound and even “broke into my safe.”
James is investigating whether Trump and his kids violated the law through serial manipulation of the values of his properties to obtain loans, tax breaks and other benefits.
Trump and his family have long argued that James’ investigation was an improper fishing expedition and that she was unfairly in cahoots with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is conducting a parallel criminal investigation into the Trump Organization’s business practices.