By Ashe O
New York, Aug 11 : Former US President Donald Trump has declined to answer any questions before Attorney General Letitia James after a daylong deposition invoking the 5th amendment not to self-incriminate in any way as his lawyers asked him to “shut up” and not spin into one of his usual “egregious moods” which could jeopardize his criminal case with New York DA.
Trump, who was summoned by the AG soon after the FBI raid on his Mar a Lago Florida residence to unearth official and classified documents he took home after presidency, is facing a civil suit against him for misstating and inflating accounts and valuations on his properties and realties to secure bank loans to enhance his business and tax breaks to aggregate his profits.
With his “mum” attitude before the AG on Wednesday, the entire family involved in his business as vice presidents have been deposed by the AG including his son Donald Trump Jr., and his daughter Ivanka Trump on the civil suit.
The DA is pursuing a parallel criminal case of fraudulent claims on his properties to obtain tax breaks denying the IRS their right full dues.
He has already been fined $110,000 as penalty for the claims.
He has also paid millions in out of court settlements earlier. But this case is different as two investigations are on civil and criminal — the AG and the DA for the last year or more, the Business Insider reports.
In the coming weeks, the AG is expected to file a massive, long-threatened “enforcement action”.
“It will seek steep financial penalties for what the AG alleges is a decade-long pattern of playing fast and loose with the assessed values of Trump Organization properties,” the Business Insider reports.
A source said the AG’s office is preparing to unleash artillery bombardment on Trump’s businesses to shake off his claims and denial of tax evasion and wrongfully obtaining tax breaks.
Trump on Wednesday completed his court-ordered testimony for the New York attorney general’s office inquiry into alleged financial wrongdoing at the Trump Organization — raising his right hand, swearing to tell the truth and then, true to his promise, declining to answer questions.
The former president left the lower 45, Manhattan offices of Attorney General Letitia James in his motorcade about six hours after arriving for the taped, closed-door deposition.
He stuck to his guns, invoking the Fifth Amendment throughout questioning, according to two persons familiar with his testimony.
“It was actually very professional,” Trump lawyer Alina Habba told Insider afterward.
So, what’s next for the Trumps, the Trump Organization and James’ three-year investigation?
In the coming weeks, the AG is expected to file a massive, long-threatened “enforcement action” — essentially a multi-hundred-page lawsuit against the Trumps and his Manhattan-based business. The lawsuit will seek steep financial penalties for an alleged decade-long pattern of playing fast and loose with the assessed values of Trump Organization properties.
Trump allegedly fiddled with figures as it suited him, James has alleged. He low-balled values to avoid property taxes. And he high-balled the values for some of the same properties when he wanted to impress bankers and secure hundreds of millions in loans, James’ lawyers have alleged in court hearings and filings.
Fines and back taxes, however, may be the least of what Trump’s facing. James has signalled she will also seek the dissolution of the business itself under New York’s so-called corporate death penalty — a law that allows the AG to seek to dissolve businesses that operate “in a persistently fraudulent or illegal manner.”
“This cuts right to the crown jewel of his real estate portfolio,” said Tristan Snell, lead prosecutor on the New York attorney general’s separate, successful investigation into Trump University. “It’s everything, because at issue is Trump Tower (where the Trump Organization is headquartered in Manhattan), at issue is 40 Wall Street, which is one of his most beloved properties and probably one of the more valuable ones,” Snell told Insider.
“All of his golf courses are also at stake, so it’s a big deal,” added the ex-prosecutor, who went on to found MainStreet.law, a firm focused on helping small and medium-sized businesses.
“Trump would basically have to divest of his properties,” Snell said.
“He could try some sleight of hand and have his operations be covered under some other new sort of corporate entities, but it would definitely be a significant black eye.”