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Trump says he’s testifying Wednesday in New York investigation

In a tweet on his Truth Social account, former president Donald Trump said that he will be questioned under oath on Wednesday in connection with the ongoing civil investigation by the New York attorney general into his business practices as a real estate developer.

Just days after FBI officials searched his Mar-a-Lago house in Florida as part of an unrelated federal investigation into whether he removed sensitive materials when he left the White House, Trump’s appearance comes amid a flurry of legal action surrounding him.

Allegations that Donald Trump’s business, the Trump Organization, overstated the value of key assets like golf courses and buildings and misled lenders and tax authorities are the subject of the New York civil probe, which is being overseen by Attorney General Letitia James.

Tonight in New York City. I’ll be meeting with the racist attorney general of New York tomorrow to continue the biggest witch hunt in American history! In a post on Truth Social, Trump referred to his frequently repeated statements regarding James, a Black man, and the inquiry.

Trump said, “I’m under assault from all sides, along with my tremendous company.” It’s “Banana Republic!”

Messages were left with James’ office and Trump’s attorney for comment.

Trump’s testimony will take place in the middle of a crucial week in his post-presidency and at a crucial time in James’ probe.

James’ office said in May that the investigation was about to come to a close and that there was a wealth of material that might be used to support legal action, like a lawsuit, against Trump, his business, or both.

One of the few remaining parts is the Republican billionaire’s deposition, which is the formal word for sworn testimony that is not presented in court, according to the attorney general’s office.

Donald Jr. and Ivanka Trump, two of Trump’s adult children, have recently testified in the inquiry, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. The persons spoke under the condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to do so.

The Trump family’s testimony was originally scheduled for last month but was postponed following the death of Ivana Trump, the ex-wife of the former president and mother of Ivanka, Donald Jr., and another son, Eric Trump, who took a deposition in James’ inquiry in 2020, on July 14.

The Trump Organization and its longstanding finance director, Allen Weisselberg, will appear in court on Friday to ask for the dismissal of tax fraud allegations that were made against them in a separate criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney last year.

Trump’s firm “used false or deceptive asset assessments to achieve a plethora of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions,” according to “substantial” evidence found by Democratic attorney general Letitia James’ office, according to court documents.

James cites annual financial statements provided to banks to secure favorable loan terms and to financial magazines to justify Trump’s place among the world’s billionaires as evidence for his claim that the Trump Organization overstated the value of its holdings to impress lenders or misrepresented what land was worth to reduce its tax burden.

Even Trump’s Manhattan penthouse’s size was overstated by the corporation, which said it was roughly three times the size it actually was, James’ office said. This represented a difference in worth of around $200 million.

Trump has refuted the accusations, saying that obtaining the highest prices is a standard procedure in the real estate sector. He claims that James’ probe is a component of a “witch hunt” with political overtones and that her office is “doing all in their corrupt power to interfere with my commercial connections and with the political process.”

NO CASE EXISTS, After Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron determined that James’ agency had “the clear authority” to examine Trump and other firm owners, Trump issued a statement in February.

While James has considered suing Trump or his business, a separate criminal investigation has long been conducted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

That investigation had seemed to be moving toward a potential criminal prosecution, but it stalled after Alvin Bragg, a new district attorney, was appointed in January.

After hearing testimony, a grand jury was dissolved. After Bragg questioned the case’s validity internally, the chief prosecutor who had been leading the investigation resigned.

Trump may assert his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and refuse to cooperate with James’ investigators because Bragg has stated that his probe is ongoing.

Trump was required to attend in person at the attorney general’s office, which is housed in a Manhattan office building that also serves as the headquarters of the fictitious corporation Waystar Royco in HBO’s “Succession,” according the subpoena issued by James’ office.

Even while Trump has been outspoken in defending himself in public and in written declarations, legal experts warn that the same approach might backfire in a deposition since whatever he says could be used against him or his corporation in the criminal probe. No ex-president has ever ever been accused of a crime.

The Trumps’ attorneys fought to have the subpoenas thrown out on the grounds that the civil investigation was being used by New York authorities to gather evidence for the criminal investigation and that the depositions were a ruse to avoid bringing them before a criminal grand jury where state law requires them to be granted immunity.

Weisselberg and the Trump Organization were charged last summer after Manhattan prosecutors were motivated by information obtained by James’ agency. According to the prosecution, Weisselberg received off-the-books compensation totaling more than $1.7 million.

Weisselberg and the business have entered a no contest plea.

According to court documents, Weisselberg and Eric Trump both used the Fifth Amendment more than 500 times in response to queries from James’ attorneys during separate depositions in 2020.

The former president might decide to follow suit, but Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University, predicted that “he’ll claim ignorance on many topics.”

Given that Trump is regarded as more of a “big-picture man,” Gillers said, it may be an effective tactic. So, according to his attorneys, he will respond to broad inquiries and provide vague enough responses to avoid difficulty.

On the other side, his impulsiveness makes him a nightmare for lawyers, and his overconfidence might get him into trouble. Anyone who challenges him will support that, the professor continued.

James may decide to file a lawsuit when her inquiry is complete in order to hold Trump or his corporation accountable for their actions, or even to forbid them from engaging in particular commercial ventures.

Brian Cooper
Brian Cooper
Brian Cooper is a global reporter for TheOptic, focusing on bringing insights and developments for global breaking news daily. With almost seven years of experience covering topics from all over the world, Brian strives to make sure you stay up-to-date with what's going on in the world.
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