On Wednesday Donald Trump finally appeared for a deposition that he tried desperately for months to avoid. After losing every appeal to quash the order to testify, Trump showed up and, when he got there, took the cowardly way out by pleading the Fifth Amendment (more than 400 times). You know, the one that enables people to remain silent so that they don’t incriminate themselves.
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The deposition Trump is keeping his mouth shut for was ordered by New York Attorney General Letitia James. She’s investigating Trump for fraudulently misrepresenting the value of his real estate properties. Trump has responded by viciously attacking James and insulting her, rather than simply making the case for his innocence. What does that tell you?
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Of course, anyone is permitted to plead the Fifth in order to avoid self-incrimination. And that includes Trump. However, the reasons he provided in a rambling and hostile statement that he posted online don’t exactly help his case. The full statement is posted below (or here transcribed). But here are a few of choice selections that embody the crux of his feelings about the matter.
Trump opened by saying that “Attorney General Letitia James openly campaigned on the policy of ‘Get and Destroy Trump.’ This political attack on me, my family, and my great company is her despicable attempt to fulfill that cynical, and very corrupt promise.”
Trump’s complaint that James campaigned “on the policy of ‘Get and Destroy Trump,” actually points out how much Trump is despised. After all, it was a winning campaign. And if Trump had such a “great company,” it wouldn’t now be the subject of an investigation for fraud.
Trump wrote that James said “‘He’s going to know my name personally’, and she claimed I was an ‘illegitimate President.'”
Well, James was right on both counts then. Trump obviously knows her name, and his presidency was wholly illegitimate if judged by his ignorance, failure to accomplish anything, and his tendency to violate the legal and moral principles of the position.
Trump wrote that James “colluded with others to carry out this phony years-long crusade.”
In other words, she worked cooperatively other other law enforcement agencies to advance a probe that Trump tried to obstruct for years, but for which James won every court battle. Which is why he was there pleading the Fifth.
Now Trump is whining that “Letitia James openly stated her hostilities toward me.”
Was that while Trump was politely calling her “despicable,” “corrupt,” and “racist?”
Trump insists that “I did nothing wrong, which is why, after five years of looking, the Federal, State and local governments, together with the Fake News Media, have found nothing.”
Actually, Trump has resisted cooperating with the investigations, which is what took up most of that time. And he might want to check with the FBI, who just searched his Mar-a-Lago bunker, about whether anything was found.
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Trump calls the probe “a vindictive and self-serving fishing expedition.”
But James is very narrowly looking into how “the Trump Organization exaggerated the value of its holdings to impress lenders or misstated what land was worth to slash its tax burden […] The company even exaggerated the size of Trump’s Manhattan penthouse.”
And this is where we get into the meat of Trump’s excuse for pleading the Fifth.
“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question. 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.”
So I heard he took the fifth? pic.twitter.com/F6y0IpNhAd
— Acyn (@Acyn) August 10, 2022
Indeed. On more than one occasion Trump insisted that taking the Fifth Amendment was a sign guilt: “The mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” However, nothing in Trump’s statement refutes the facts that are alleged against him. So his complaints about them being unfounded, or politically motivated are just more hot air. If anything, he should be more motivated to speak out in order to set the record straight. But that’s hard to do when you know you’re guilty.
Trump then asserts that “the current Administration and many prosecutors in this Country have lost all moral and ethical bounds of decency.”
Once again, Trump offers nothing to support that charge. Just like his tedious lies about election fraud, he can’t provide a shred of evidence.
Trump closes with “Accordingly, under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.”
This would be a good time to point out that Trump didn’t actually give any reasons for declining to answer questions. He just insulted the Attorney General and other government officials, and he complained about being held accountable for his crimes. And there is nothing in the rest of the statement that rises to any sort of coherent argument for declining to make his case under oath. But then, did you expect anything more from Donald Trump?
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NEW: Former president Trump says he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights during his deposition with ?@NewYorkStateAG?’s office pic.twitter.com/NQ0gUyCc4U
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) August 10, 2022
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