Thus asserting his right against ‘self-incrimination’….
His lawyers have conviced the guy that he IS in serious legal trouble in several places….
Donald J. Trump declined to answer questions from the New York state attorney general’s office on Wednesday, a surprising gamble in a high-stakes legal interview that likely will determine the course of a civil investigation into his company’s business practices.
Shortly after questioning began on Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump’s office released a statement saying he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, explaining that he “declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.”
Two sources with knowledge of the matter confirmed that he was refusing to answer questions, citing the Fifth Amendment.
Since March 2019, Attorney General Letitia James’s office has investigated whether Mr. Trump and his company improperly inflated the value of his hotels, golf clubs and other assets. Mr. Trump has long dismissed the inquiry from Ms. James, a Democrat, as a partisan “witch hunt.”
In his statement on Wednesday, he cast it as part of a grander conspiracy against him, linking it to the F.B.I. search at Mar-a-Lago, his home and private club in Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday.
“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’” he said in the statement. “Now I know the answer to that question.” He said that he was being targeted by lawyers, prosecutors and the news media, and that left him with “no choice.”
But there are other reasons Mr. Trump may have decided not to answer questions. While Ms. James’s inquiry is civil, and she cannot file criminal charges against the former president, the Manhattan district attorney’s office has been conducting a parallel criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump fraudulently inflated valuations of his properties. Any misstep from the former president in his deposition could have breathed new life into that inquiry.
Mr. Trump had not been expected to invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination. He has long considered himself his best spokesman, and those who had questioned him in the past, as well as some of his own advisers, believed he was unlikely to stay quiet.
His decision could have a significant impact on any trial if Ms. James’s investigation leads to a lawsuit. Jurors in civil matters can draw a negative inference when a defendant invokes his or her Fifth Amendment privilege, unlike in criminal cases, where exercising the right against self-incrimination cannot be held against the defendant.
Staying silent could also hurt Mr. Trump politically at a time when he is hinting that he will join the 2024 presidential race; it could raise questions about what he might be trying to hide.
In the past, Mr. Trump has ridiculed witnesses for invoking their Fifth Amendment rights, once remarking at a rally that, “You see the mob takes the Fifth,” and, “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
But if he continues to decline questions throughout the day — as appears to be his plan — there is less chance that he will unwittingly aid the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation, which was nearing an indictment of the former president this year before losing momentum.
The district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, had developed concerns about proving a case against Mr. Trump, but he has said that he is monitoring Ms. James’s investigation and planned to scrutinize Mr. Trump’s responses on Wednesday. The former president’s xdecision not to answer those questions may forestall new avenues in that investigation.
Mr. Trump is also contending with a litany of other inquiries….