On Wednesday, Donald Trump sat for a deposition in New York. He was deposed by the New York State attorney general’s office, and NY AG Letitia James was there for the beginning of the depo. The bulk of the deposition was conducted by Kevin Wallace, one of AG James’s staffers. Every question got the same answer, as Donald Trump pleaded the Fifth, invoking his right against self-incrimination. He did make a very special and very bigly statement at the start of the deposition about how all of this is a witch hunt.
The New York State attorney general, Letitia James, sat across from Donald J. Trump as he repeatedly declined to answer questions, invoking his right against self-incrimination during a deposition on Wednesday, according to one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers. The lawyer, Ronald P. Fischetti, said that over the course of about four hours, with several breaks, Mr. Trump answered only one question, about his name, toward the beginning of the interview.
Then he read a statement into the record in which he called the inquiry a continuation of “the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country” and accused Ms. James of having “openly campaigned on a policy of destroying me.”
Ms. James did not visibly react, Mr. Fischetti said in an interview. After that, Mr. Trump repeated the words “same answer” from about 9:30 a.m. to around 3 p.m., with a long break for lunch and several shorter breaks.
“They asked a lot of questions about valuations and golf clubs and all that stuff,” Mr. Fischetti said. He said that Mr. Trump did not diverge from that answer, offering the same response until the interview was over.
The attorney general’s office had not been alerted in advance that Mr. Trump was going to take the fifth, Mr. Fischetti said, in part because the decision was made only shortly before the interview and Mr. Trump had to be persuaded not to answer the questions substantively.
“He absolutely wanted to testify, and it took some very strong persuasion by me and some others to convince him,” Mr. Fischetti said.
The statement that Mr. Trump read overlapped significantly with one that he released publicly earlier in the day, in which he linked his refusal to answer questions to the F.B.I.’s search of his home on Monday, casting the actions as part of a larger effort by his political opponents to discredit him. (The two investigations are not linked.)
I know it’s hard to keep track of all of the separate investigations into Trump. Even I had to look it up, because there are just so many and I was like “wait, is this about his stupid charity scams?” No – AG James has done a three-year investigation into Trump Org’s finances, whether Trump “fraudulently inflated the value of his assets to secure loans and other benefits.” AG James has evidence that Trump misled tax officials and banks. Now, post-deposition, James has to make the call as to whether to sue Trump or whether to “seek a settlement that could extract a significant financial penalty.”
These are photos from yesterday – Trump throwing his tiny little baby fist up into the air, probably as some kind of white power salute.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid.