Trump faces fraud lawsuit from NY attorney general

Former President Donald Trump walks to a vehicle outside of Trump Tower in New York in August.
Former President Donald Trump walks to a vehicle outside of Trump Tower in New York in August. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

In a news conference announcing the civil fraud lawsuit, New York Attorney General Letitia James said the former President repeatedly pleaded the Fifth Amendment when asked about falsely inflating his net worth during a deposition with her office in August.

Trump previously said in a statement that he declined to answer questions “under the advice of my counsel.” On Wednesday, James provided details about what questions to which he pleaded the Fifth Amendment.

According to James, Trump’s businesses prepared statements of financial condition every year to submit to banks and other financial institutions. The statements showed the financial position of the Trump businesses, James said, and were relied upon if the Trump Organization wanted to apply for loans.

Each statement was personally certified as accurate by Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. or the former CFO Allen Weisselberg, James said.

Trump “made known” that “he wanted his net-worth reflected on those statements to increase,” James said at the press conference, “a desire Mr. Weissenberg and others carried out year after year in their fraudulent preparation of those statements.”

“When asked about these meetings under oath as part of our deposition, both men, Mr. Trump and Mr. Weisselberg, invoked their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and they refused to answer,” James said.

James added, “When asked under oath if he, Mr. Trump, continued to review and approve the statements after becoming president of the United States in 2017, Mr. Trump again invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege and refused to answer.”

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