Video of Trump impeachment in New York fraud investigation shows ex-president taking fifth decision and repeating ‘same answer’
Newly released video obtained by CBS News provides the first look at former President Donald Trump’s testimony last summer in the New York Attorney General’s civil fraud investigation.
Trump sat down for questioning under oath on Aug. 10, and video shows him politely answering opening questions from State Attorney General Letitia James.
Dressed in a dark blue suit, red tie and American flag pin, seated in front of the camera in a midtown Manhattan conference room, Trump answered “yes” when James asked him if he was familiar with the testifying rules. But as his finances began to be questioned in earnest, the former president—and now a candidate for the same position—invoked the Fifth Amendment and continued to do so for nearly four hours.
Transcripts of parts of Trump’s testimony were included as a document provided by the New York attorney general’s office on October 13. $250 million lawsuit Against Trump, three of his children, and his company. Those parts of Trump’s testimony are no longer classified once the offer is made. That office initially denied CBS News’ request, under New York’s Freedom of Information Act, for video to go along with those portions of the transcript. The appeals officer reversed this decision.
“Anything you say in this examination can be used in a civil proceeding, and that could include a civil enforcement proceeding or a criminal proceeding. Do you understand that?” James asked.
Trump replied, “I think.”
“Isn’t that yeah?” James asked.
“I don’t know what I did wrong, but the answer is yes, I do understand,” Trump said.
“You have the right to refuse to answer any question if an honest answer to the question would result in your conviction. Do you understand that?” Follow James.
Trump replied, “Yes.”
“Any willful error on your part may constitute perjury. Do you understand that, sir?”
Once the preliminary questions were completed, Trump was given an opportunity to read a prepared statement on record.
He began with a familiar phrase: “This is the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country.” He called James “a maverick and out of control prosecutor” and accused her of being politically motivated by her office’s investigations into his financial practices.
Just over a month later, on September 21, James announced Her office suit against Trump, three of his children, and his company, accusing them of a long-term scheme to inflate the value of their property. The Trumps have denied any wrongdoing.
“This whole thing is so unfair,” Trump said in the deposition video.
“Anyone in my position who does not take the Fifth Amendment would be an idiot, an absolute idiot,” Trump said, adding that on the counsel’s advice, “I respectfully refuse to answer questions within the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen by the Constitution of the United States.”
This will be my answer to any other questions.
Senior Law Enforcement Adviser Kevin Wallace, of the Attorney General’s Office, noted “for the record” that the statement was “long,” and that “we obviously disagree with a lot of the characterization.” Wallace then began his cross-examination, which would make up the bulk of the deposition.
Trump initially responded to three questions by saying, “For all the reasons given in my answer and included here in their entirety, I refuse to answer the question.”
Wallace then told Trump he could just say, “Same answer” — “to speed things up.”
Trump did it more than 400 times during the full interview, according to a New York Attorney General’s court filing. After the filing is over, Trump said issued a public statement Saying he had exercised his Fifth Amendment right, he refused to answer.
During one section of the questioning, Wallace asked Trump about his financial statements, which have been provided every year since 2011. In February 2022, The accounting firm that prepared them She retracted her work and said those reports “should no longer be relied upon”.
“The ratings contained in this document reflect false and misleading rating statements; is that correct?” Wallace asked.
Trump replied, “Same answer.”
Was he “aware” that it contained false and misleading statements?
“The same answer.”
Even as he answered “the same answer” to question after question, Trump appeared to study the financial documents Wallace gave him, flexing his arms, leaning forward and looking.
Wallace also asked about the involvement of the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg — who currently holds the position Five months’ imprisonment Due to tax fraud – and current company controller Geoffrey Maconie.
The two executives were among the defendants in the $250 million New York Attorney General’s lawsuit, which seeks to impede the company’s operations in the state. The lawsuit accuses the Trumps and their company of involvement in a massive, years-long fraud scheme revolving around property value manipulation. In addition to the financial sanctions, the attorney general’s office is seeking to end the company’s New York operations and impose sanctions on the four Trumps.
“From at least 2005 to the present, you have had an ongoing agreement with Mr. Weisselberg and Mr. McConey that they will prepare the statement of financial condition in a manner that includes valuations based on false and misleading assumptions as a means of inflating reported values; is that correct?” Wallace asked in the filing. The company has denied the New York attorney general’s allegations against it and any of its executives.
Same answer, Trump said.
McCone and Weisselberg were the key witnesses in a separate criminal case against two of the Trump Organization companies, brought by the Manhattan district attorney. jury last month The companies convicted 17 counts related to tax fraud, resulting from a variety of schemes to reduce payroll liability while giving executives large tax-exempt bonuses and untaxable perks. Weisselberg entered separately on file guilty plea in case.
The New York attorney general’s civil case is scheduled to go to trial on October 2nd. The judge in that case rejected repeated attempts by Trump’s lawyers to move that date back.