Trump repeatedly pleaded the Fifth in hours-long deposition for New York AG probe: Sources

Two of Trump's grown children have already been deposed, sources said.

August 10, 2022, 5:32 PM

Donald Trump on Wednesday repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against testifying against himself during a six-hour deposition as part of the New York attorney general's civil investigation into his family real estate business.

Trump and state Attorney General Letitia James have sparred in statements and on social media -- and, on Wednesday, they were face-to-face in a 16th-floor conference room in her office in New York City, seated across the table from one another as part of a court-ordered deposition in James' probe, which is in its final stages.

James herself began Trump's deposition, sources familiar said -- kicking off the hours-long exchange, including breaks.

Sources said the only question Trump answered was when Kevin Wallace, a lawyer in James' office who has been leading the investigation, asked his name. Otherwise he invoked the Fifth each time.

Trump also read into the record a statement that echoed one released by his office as the deposition began. He sat directly across from James as he accused her of political motivation. She did not react, the sources said.

A spokesperson for James said later Wednesday that they would "not comment on specific details" but confirmed that during the deposition, "Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination."

A source with knowledge of the matter said that it is unlikely Trump will return for any additional questions.

In his emailed statement to reporters while he was in the deposition, Trump said, in part, "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 Constitution."

He has previously suggested people who invoke Fifth Amendments protections are guilty, like "the mob." But he said in his statement during his deposition that his mind was changed by the onslaught of what he continued to cast as partisan probes.

His statement also included lengthy attacks on James' investigation, echoing his other attacks on her as "racist" and her work as part of a "Banana Republic."

In a brief post on social media after the deposition -- departing from that caustic criticism -- Trump said it was a "very professional meeting" and boasted of his "fantastic company with great assets."

PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump gestures as he departs Trump Tower, Aug. 10, 2022, in New York, on his way to the New York attorney general's office for a deposition in a civil investigation.
Former President Donald Trump gestures as he departs Trump Tower, Aug. 10, 2022, in New York, on his way to the New York attorney general's office for a deposition in a civil investigation.
Julia Nikhinson/AP

Trump's attorney Alina Habba likewise called the deposition "professional" as she left the prosecutors' office.

"It was fine," Habba said. "It was actually very professional."

The office where Trump appeared is across the street from one of the Trump-branded buildings included in the civil investigation.

James has said her office uncovered evidence of potentially fraudulent conduct in the way the Trump Organization valued its real estate holdings when seeking loans and when asking for tax breaks.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

"My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides. Banana Republic!" he said in a statement on his social media outlet, Truth Social, not long before the deposition.

As Trump left Wednesday afternoon, his motorcade drove by a number of onlookers and he was seen waving from the window.

His mandated appearance in New York follows an escalation in a separate federal investigation into his handling of classified material. On Monday, the FBI searched his residence in Palm Beach, Florida.

Wednesday's deposition, which had been delayed from July due to the death of Trump's ex-wife Ivana, came after a months-long court fight during which Trump was held in contempt as he fought the attorney general's subpoena.

Two of his grown children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, have already been deposed as part of the civil probe, sources said.

PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump waves as he departs Trump Tower, Aug. 10, 2022, in New York, on his way to the New York attorney general's office for a deposition in a civil investigation.
Former President Donald Trump waves as he departs Trump Tower, Aug. 10, 2022, in New York, on his way to the New York attorney general's office for a deposition in a civil investigation.
Julia Nikhinson/AP

Trump argued unsuccessfully that he should not have to sit for a deposition while the Manhattan District Attorney's Office was conducting a parallel criminal investigation. While the Manhattan DA's case remains active, two senior prosecutors who had been leading it resigned earlier this year over the lack of an indictment.

Lawyers in James' office have said in court that their office is nearing a decision on an enforcement action.

Trump's deposition came one year to the day after former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's resignation announcement following a different investigation by James.

Her spokesperson said Wednesday: "[She] will pursue the facts and the law wherever they may lead. Our investigation continues."

ABC News' Will Steakin contributed to this report.

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