Skip to content

Trump Takes Fifth Amendment in NY Deposition: Live Updates

Former President Donald J. Trump’s legal jeopardy appeared to intensify significantly on Monday with the stunning revelation that federal agents armed with a warrant had searched his Mar-a-Lago club and home in Palm Beach, Fla.

It was not immediately clear what investigators might have seized, but the search took place after federal agents visited the Palm Beach estate in the spring to discuss materials Mr. Trump took improperly with him when he left the White House, including numerous pages of classified documents.

The mere fact that the federal authorities had taken the remarkable step of searching the private residence of a former US president was a reminder of just how much legal scrutiny Mr. Trump is under as he considers running for president again in 2024.

He and his family have criticized the various investigations swirling around him as partisan or vindictive, and they have denied wrongdoing.

Federal prosecutors investigating attempts to reverse Mr. Trump’s loss in the 2020 election has asked witnesses directly about his involvement in those efforts. In Georgia, a criminal inquiry is focused on his push to have the election results altered there.

More immediately, Mr. Trump is scheduled to be deposed on Wednesday by lawyers from the New York State attorney general’s office as part of a long-running civil inquiry into whether he and his family’s real estate business fraudulently inflated the value of his hotels, golf courses and other assets to obtain favorable loans.

The status of other investigations into the former president is harder to fathom, although one — a criminal inquiry by the Manhattan district attorney’s office — appeared to lose steam in the spring. (A matter that had receded into the background re-emerged on Tuesday, when a federal appeals court ruled that the House could gain access to Mr. Trump’s tax returns.)

Here is where the notable inquiries involving Mr. Trump stand.

New York State Civil Inquiry

mr. Trump fought for months to avoid the high-stakes deposition he is scheduled to sit for on Wednesday, which could shape the outcome of the civil inquiry by New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, into him and his family business, the Trump Organization. (The deposition was to have been in July; it was delayed after the death of his first wife, Ivana.)

Mrs. James’s investigation, which is in its final stages, is focused on whether financial statements in which Mr. Trump valued his assets reflected a pattern of fraud, or were simply examples of his penchant for exaggeration.

Mrs. James said in a court filing this year that the Trump Organization’s business practices were “fraudulent or misleading,” but that her office needed to question Mr. Trump and two of his adult children, Ivanka and Donald Jr., to determine who was responsible for the conduct.

The two sat for depositions recently after the judge overseeing the case ordered them to do so. Their brother Eric was interviewed in 2020 as part of the inquiry and repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, according to a court filing.

The former president’s deposition follows a protracted legal battle that resulted in a state judge ruling in April that Mr. Trump was in contempt of court. That ruling came after Ms. James filed a motion asking that Mr. Trump was forced to produce documents sought in eight previous requests.

His lawyers said they had searched for, and could not find, any documents the attorney general did not already have. The judge nevertheless fined Mr. Trump $10,000 a day until he filed affidavits describing the search. The contempt order was lifted in May after he paid a $110,000 fine and submitted the affidavits.

The same month, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Mr. Trump that sought to halt Ms. James’s inquiry because, the former president’s lawyers argued, she had violated his rights, and her inquiry was politically motivated.

Because Ms. James’s investigation is civil, she can sue Mr. Trump but she cannot file criminal charges. She could also opt to pursue settlement negotiations in hopes of obtaining a swifter financial payout rather than file a lawsuit that would undoubtedly take years to resolve.

If Ms. James were to sue and prevail at trial, a judge could impose steep financial penalties on Mr. Trump and restrict his business operations in New York.

mr. Trump’s lawyers would most likely argue in any such suit that valuing real estate is a subjective process, and that his company simply estimated the value of the properties in question, without intending to artificially inflate them.

Manhattan Criminal Case

Despite its civil nature, Ms. James’s inquiry and Mr. Trump’s deposition still carries the potential for criminal charges. That’s because the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation was also focused on the valuations of Mr. Trump’s properties before it appeared to flag in the spring. It could gain new life depending on Mr. Trump’s performance is Wednesday.

Alvin Bragg, the district attorney, said in April that the inquiry, which began under his predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., was continuing but he did not offer a clear sense of its direction.

mr. Bragg’s comments came after two prosecutors who had been leading the investigation left. One of them, Mark F. Pomerantz, said in a resignation letter published by The New York Times that he believed the office had enough evidence to charge Mr. Trump with “numerous” felonies. mr. Pomerantz criticized Mr. Bragg for not pursuing an indictment in the case.

In his April remarks on the matter, Mr. Bragg said new witnesses had been questioned and additional documents had been reviewed, although he declined to provide details. Later in April, The Times reported that at least three witnesses considered central to the case had not heard from Mr. Bragg’s office for several months or had not been asked to testify.

The investigation has yielded criminal charges against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg.

Last July, before Mr. Vance’s tenure ended, the district attorney’s office charged the company with running a 15-year scheme to help its executives evade taxes by compensating them with fringe benefits that were hidden from authorities. mr. Weisselberg was charged with avoiding taxes on $1.7 million in perks that should have been reported as income.

The case has been tentatively scheduled to go to trial later this year.

Georgia Criminal Inquiry

mr. Trump is also under scrutiny in Georgia, where Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, is investigating whether the former president and others criminally interfered with the 2020 presidential election.

mr. Trump and associates had numerous interactions with Georgia officials after the election, including a call in which he urged the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to “find 11,780 votes,” the number he would have needed to overcome President Biden’s lead in the state.

It is the only known criminal inquiry that focuses directly on Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results. In January, Fulton County’s top judge approved Ms. Willis’s request for a special grand jury in the matter.

On Tuesday, a different judge in Fulton County said Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer for Mr. Trump and a central figure in the Georgia inquiry, needed to travel there to appear before the grand jury. mr. Giuliani, who had two coronary heart stents implanted last month, had told prosecutors he was not healthy enough to fly to Georgia.

But the judge, Robert CI McBurney, tentatively ordered him to show up to deliver in-person testimony on Aug. 17. (Judge McBurney said he might reconsider the date if Mr. Giuliani’s doctor produced an adequate medical excuse.)

“Mr. Giuliani is not cleared for air travel, AIR,” Judge McBurney said. “John Madden drove all over the country in his big bus, from stadium to stadium. So one thing we need to explore is whether Mr. Giuliani could get here without jeopardizing his recovery and his health. On a train, on a bus or Uber, or whatever it would be,” he said, adding, “New York is not close to Atlanta, but it’s not traveling from Fairbanks.”

Judge McBurney also said on Tuesday that prosecutors should let Mr. Giuliani, 78, knows whether he is a target of the criminal investigation. Mrs. Willis’s office has already told at least 17 people that they are targets.

Westchester County Criminal Investigation

In Westchester County, Miriam E. Rocah, the district attorney, appears to be focused at least in part on whether the Trump Organization misled local officials about the value of a golf course to reduce its taxes. She has subpoenaed the company for records on the matter.

Washington DC Lawsuit

In January 2020, Karl Racine, the attorney general for the District of Columbia, sued Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee, saying it had overpaid his own family business by more than $1 million or space at the Trump International Hotel during the January 2017 inaugural.

The lawsuit, which names the inaugural committee, the hotel, and the Trump Organization as defendants, is scheduled to go to trial in September, after a judge ordered that it could move forward.

mr. Racine’s office has subpoenaed a range of parties, including Melania Trump, the former first lady, and has questioned Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and Thomas J. Barrack Jr., who chaired the inaugural committee.

Jan. 6 Inquiry

A House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol — aided by more than a dozen former federal prosecutors — is examining the role Mr. Trump and his allies may have played in his efforts to hold onto power after his electoral defeat in November 2020.

While the committee itself does not have the power to bring criminal charges, it could refer the matter to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, to prosecute them through the Justice Department.

Jonah E. Bromwich, Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Michael Rothfeld give Ashley Wong contributed reporting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

BPISSUENEWS