Former President Trump announced he’d invoked his Fifth Amendment rights during a deposition by the New York Attorney General on Wednesday, joining a number of prominent Republicans in his orbit who have elected to remain silent during recent calls to testify.
The former president had been subpoenaed as part of NY AG Letitia James’s (D) probe into his business and financial dealings.
Despite multiple efforts to resist the probe and subpoena, Trump reportedly arrived at the office Wednesday morning. There, he declined to answer questions, asserting his Fifth Amendment rights almost 450 times, according to NBC.
The Fifth Amendment gives Americans certain rights in legal proceedings, including the protection that no one can be “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”
Although the amendment makes specific reference to criminal proceedings, the protection has been interpreted to apply to witnesses broadly.
“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” Trump wrote in a statement on his 45office.com website Wednesday.
“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.”
The civil investigation is examining whether the former president misled investors, insurers and tax authorities about the value of the Trump Organization, inflating the value to attract investments and subsequently deflating them to get tax breaks and loan benefits.
But Trump is also being looked at by the House select committee examining the Jan. 6, 2021 attacks on the US Capitol, as well as by the Department of Justice (DOJ), which has focused its probe on Trump after facing pressure from Jan. 6 committee lawmakers to criminally investigate the former president.
Several witnesses have been called to appear before the House committee and elsewhere about the Jan. 6 riots and efforts by the Trump camp to challenge and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election — a number have now pleaded the Fifth to avoid responding to the inquiries.
The former president’s son, Eric Trump, was questioned as part of the NY AG’s probe back in 2020 after attempts to delay the deposition failed.
Eric Trump pleaded the Fifth to over 500 questions related to his role as the Trump Organization’s executive vice president, according to The New York Times.
He and his father have long accused James of a political vendetta against the former president and dismissed the investigation as politically motivated.
Two of Trump’s other children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., were subpoenaed in the NY AG investigation earlier this year. Their questioning was initially scheduled for mid-July, but James agreed to postpone when the former president’s first wife, Ivana Trump, died the day before.
Ivanka and Donald Trump, Jr., set for depositions earlier this month.
Political consultant Roger Stone was one of several Trump allies subpoenaed to testify before the House Jan. 6 committee and invoke the Fifth to avoid responding to questioning.
Stone was sentenced to prison as part of an investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was pardoned by the former president days before his sentence would begin.
Stone was called before the committee on account of his connections to Trump and his involvement in the Jan. 6 riots, during which he reportedly used far-right militia members as his own security detail.
Before the Jan. 6 committee, Stone invoked his Fifth Amendment rights to every question in a 90-minute deposition, CNN reported.
The Jan. 6 committee also subpoenaed former national security adviser Michael Flynn, seeking information on a December 2020 meeting where a number of people in the Oval Office allegedly discussed the 2020 presidential election and baseless fraud claims.
Flynn attempted to sue the committee, but ultimately appeared and took the Fifth during questioning. He declined to even answer whether he believed in a peaceful transition of power, according to CNN.
After he testified, Flynn’s lawyers released a statement accusing the committee of implying “that General Flynn’s decision to decline to answer their questions constituted an admission of guilt” and calling the inquiry “political theater designed to set up a false narrative based on the Committee’s wrong view of the 5th Amendment.”
Conservative attorney John Eastman, who counseled Trump and then-Vice President Mike Pence on overturning the 2020 presidential results, reportedly invoked the Fifth dozens of times during an appearance before the Jan. 6 committee.
Eastman helped devise the plan to push Pence to block the certification of the presidential election by Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.
He also appeared with Trump at the Jan. 6 rally at the Ellipse, from which rioters marched to the Capitol.
Eastman later sought a pardon from then-President Trump.
The DOJ announced in late July that it had obtained Eastman’s phone records.
Former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark was the first witness to plead the Fifth before the Jan. 6 committee.
The committee initially voted to refer Clark for prosecution by the DOJ for contempt of Congress after he resisted the subpoena.
The committee then met again with Clark, after his lawyer announced he’d assert his right against self-incrimination.
Clark reportedly attempted to send a letter telling Georgia officials of nonexistent Justice Department concerns about the 2020 presidential election results in the state, according to the New York Times.
In July, Clark was charged with ethics violations by the District of Columbia Bar Office of Disciplinary Counsel for his involvement in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
The far-right radio host touted that he’d pleaded the Fifth “almost 100 times” during questioning by the Jan. 6 committee earlier this year.
Jones told NBC News that “it’s a good thing” he didn’t answer any inquiries, expressing caution that his testimony could be used against him.
Jones was allegedly involved in the planning and funding of Jan. 6.
He’d initially sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Jan. 6 committee over the subpoena, resisting the call to testify and efforts by the committee to obtain his phone records.
Jones’ phone records were reportedly turned over to the committee after his legal team mistakenly sent them to attorneys in a separate defamation case against him.