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Former US president Donald Trump invokes Fifth Amendment, refuses to answer questions during appearance before New York Attorney-General

ABC NEWS logo ABC NEWS 10/08/2022

Former US president Donald Trump says he invoked the Fifth Amendment and declined to answer questions during an appearance before the New York Attorney-General in a civil investigation into his family's business practices.

New York State Attorney-General Letitia James is looking into whether the Trump Organization inflated real estate values.

Mr Trump and two of his adult children, Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump, fought to avoid testifying but lost.

Ms James has said her investigation uncovered significant evidence that the Trump Organization, which manages hotels, golf courses and other real estate, overstated asset values to obtain favourable loans and understated the values to get tax breaks.

The US Constitution's Fifth Amendment offers protection against self-incrimination.

"I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution," Mr Trump said in a statement.

"I once asked, 'If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?' Now I know the answer to that question," a statement from Mr Trump said.

"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."

Mr Trump, a Republican, has denied wrongdoing and called the New York investigation politically motivated. Ms James is a Democrat.

A spokeswoman for Ms James did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did a lawyer for Trump.

Mr Trump raised his fist as he left Trump Tower on Wednesday morning, wearing a blue suit with a flag pin on his lapel.

The legal stoush with the New York Attorney-General's office is the second high-profile encounter Mr Trump has had this week.

On Monday the FBI searched Mr Trump's Florida estate on Monday, an escalation of the federal investigation into whether he illegally removed records from the White House as he was leaving office in January 2021.

The former president has been flirting publicly with the question of running again for president in 2024 but has not said clearly whether he will do so.


Video: Trump says he took the Fifth in NY civil probe (Associated Press)

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