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Trump refuses to testify in New York probe

August 10, 2022

The New York Attorney General is investigating whether the Trump Organization inflated real estate values to obtain favorable loans. The former president has called the probe a "witch hunt."

Donald Trump raising his fist before he gets into a car
Trump held a defiant fist in the air as he left Trump Tower on his way to the New York attorney general's officeImage: Julia Nikhinson/AP Photo/picture alliance

Former US President Donald Trump said that he declined to testify in a civil investigation into his family's business practices on Wednesday after he appeared at the New York Attorney General's office.

"I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution," Trump said, adding he had "no choice" but to invoke the Fifth Amendment, which allows protection from self-incrimination. 

What is the investigation about?

New York State Attorney General Letitia James is examining whether the Trump Organization inflated real estate values.

Trump and his eldest children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, previously lost a legal battle over their objection to appearing for testimony. Trump had confirmed on Tuesday on his social media site, Truth Social, that he would appear at the attorney general's office.

Donald Jr. and Ivanka had been due to testify under oath in July, but the depositions were postponed after the death of their mother, Ivana, Trump's first wife.

James said her investigation had uncovered significant evidence that the Trump Organization overstated asset values to obtain favorable loans, and understated them for tax breaks.

Earlier this year, Trump was held in contempt by a New York judge for failing to hand over documents that were sought as part of the probe.

Trump says he is being 'attacked from all sides'

Trump has denied wrongdoing and called the investigation the "greatest witch hunt in US history."

"My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides," Trump said in a post on Truth Social.

The former president has been embroiled in a number of legal challenges since a mob of his supporters attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, as he was set to leave office.

Last week, a Texas militia member was handed a seven-year prison sentence for his involvement in the attack.

On Monday, the FBI searched Trump's Florida Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in a separate federal investigation into whether he illegally removed classified documents from the White House toward the end of his term as president. Trump and Republican lawmakers have slammed the FBI operation as being politically motivated.

sdi/wmr (AP, AFP, Reuters)