President Donald Trump exercised his Fifth Amendment rights on Wednesday when called in by New York Attorney General Letitia James to provide a deposition in a civil investigation that is probing allegations that he overvalued his real estate assets.
In announcing on his Truth Social platform that he intended to plead the Fifth, Trump provided an explanation — a necessary gesture, given that he had said repeatedly in 2016 that Hillary Clinton aides who did the same did so because they were guilty.
If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment? Now I know the answer to that question. 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.
That explanation was particularly poignant in the wake of the bizarre raid Monday on Trump’s compound in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.
In addition, Trump also had a strong reason to remain silent because of another, separate but parallel criminal investigation. Last year, the Manhattan district attorney, who conducted an investigation in cooperation with Attorney General James, indicted the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, accusing them of tax fraud because they provided fringe benefits to employees that were not reported as income to the government.
Anything Trump said under oath in the civil deposition could be used in the criminal prosecution, and could also be used to set a perjury trap for Trump as well.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.