Donald Trump said a very clever phrase a while back: “If you’re innocent, why invoke the Fifth Amendment?” The Fifth Amendment is a body of law that allows suspects in a US trial to refuse to testify to avoid incriminating themselves. Trump is currently one such suspect. New York Attorney General Letitia James has accused the entrepreneur of cooking up figures for his real estate group for years and systematically defrauding banks, insurance companies and tax authorities. This Wednesday, the former US president was called to answer questions to James under oath. However, Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment.
The investigation was prompted by statements from his former attorney, Michael Cohen, who heavily incriminated his former client before a congressional committee in 2019. According to Cohen, the Trump Organization repeatedly misrepresented the values of the group’s hotels, office buildings, golf clubs and other properties in official documents – and in two ways: to get more loans on the few remaining housing banks or billionaire lists. As American business magazines spiraled upwards, the patriarch of the firm systematically raised the value of personal property. On the contrary, he allegedly submitted very low assessments to the tax office to save tax. In addition to James’ civil trial, there is also a criminal case against the company and its decision-makers in the borough of Manhattan, New York.
Trump’s grown children are Donald Jr. And Ivanka responded to questions from the attorney general’s office a few days ago, which the former president has now denied. However, as he was apparently aware of a certain discrepancy between his denial and his previous statements, he sent a written statement shortly after his arrival at the Public Prosecutor’s Office. He wrote that he now knew the answer to the question of why an innocent man should deny any testimony. “When your family, your business and everyone in your orbit is the target of a baseless, politically motivated witch hunt backed by lawyers, law enforcement and the fake news media, you have no choice.” His successor Joe Biden’s administration and many of the nation’s investigators have “lost all morals, all boundaries of decency.” On the advice of his attorneys and for reasons stated, he is claiming the rights “to which every citizen is entitled under the Constitution of the United States.”
A real estate entrepreneur faces a whole bundle of fines and sanctions
Trump is currently battling multiple investigations and allegations. The Congress Committee blames him largely for the violent encroachment on the Capitol on January 6 last year. On Monday, FBI agents searched his Mar-a-Lago, Florida home on suspicion that the former president may have illegally taken or destroyed White House documents. Trump’s current refusal to testify could backfire on him: Unlike a criminal trial, a jury in a civil trial could consider an accused person’s refusal to answer questions as an incriminating sign.
However, it is not yet clear whether such a civil trial will take place. Experts believe James will wrap up the trial, which has been ongoing since 2019, this year. As can be seen from the 115-page overview of the results of the investigation so far, Trump and his children used many tricks to hide their true financial circumstances. For example, the company’s boss is said to have grossly misquoted the floor of his penthouse. In addition, he declared liquid funds he did not own as his own “money”. James said weeks ago that he had evidence that the Trump Organization was “using fraudulent and inaccurate property valuations to gain financial advantage.”
If the former reality TV star is actually convicted of the charges, authorities could ban him from doing business in New York, fire managers and demand the return of unfairly pocketed profits. If convicted, Trump could face jail time or the forced dissolution of his company. Attorney Cohen said prosecutors are investigating the payments to the two women. Both had said they were in touch with Trump, who temporarily oversaw the then-Republican presidential nominee’s 2016 campaign.
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