Video of Trump taking the Fifth in deposition with New York attorney general is released
(CNN) — A video of the August deposition the New York Attorney General’s office took of former President Donald Trump, in which Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment and declined to answer questions, was released Tuesday.
“Anyone in my position not taking the Fifth Amendment would be a fool — an absolute fool,” Trump said at the beginning of the deposition.
The former president invoked the Fifth more than 400 times during the deposition, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
Trump was deposed as part of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil investigation into the Trump organization’s business practices, which culminated in a lawsuit filed by James in September against Trump, some of his children, and executives of his business.
The video is a close shot of Trump. The investigators questioning him are not on camera. James can be heard introducing herself at the start of the deposition.
After a perfunctory back and forth between Trump and investigators about the terms of the deposition, Trump read a lengthy statement calling James’ investigation “the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country.” He said that he would be asserting his constitutional rights to not answer questions in the deposition.
His rambling opening statement, which lasted nearly seven minutes, ran through accusations that James was investigating him for political reasons, and included swipes at Michael Cohen, the former Trump lawyer whose congressional testimony about his business practices that started the attorney general’s probe. He also referenced the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago home, which occurred two days before the August 10 deposition.
Trump said he had “no choice” but to invoke the Fifth Amendment.
“We cannot permit a renegade and out of control prosecutor to use this investigation as a means of advancing her political career,” Trump said.
Once the questioning — which included questions about his company’s financial statements and how the Trump Organization operated — got under way, Trump gave a canned response to refer to his invocation of his Fifth Amendment rights.
The deposition unfolded over the course of several hours on August 10. The video released Tuesday spans about 37 minutes and covers the portions of the deposition transcript that had been previously released.