Trump to sit for deposition in civil lawsuit threatening the fate of his business empire
Donald Trump appeared for a deposition Thursday as part of a high-stakes civil case brought by New York state against the former president, some of his children and his sprawling business empire.
The former president answered numerous questions in the deposition with the New York attorney general’s office, a source familiar with the matter said, sitting for nearly seven hours plus breaks.
The lawsuit, brought last September by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, alleges that Trump, his children Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, and the Trump Organization were involved in an expansive scheme lasting over a decade by providing false financial statements to lenders and others that the former president used to enrich himself.
The suit is seeking $250 million and bans on the Trumps’ ability to operate a business in the state. The case is set for trial in October. The Trumps have denied wrongdoing.
The former president’s deposition is part of the discovery process of the case, and his attorney said earlier Thursday that he was prepared to answer James’ questions – a notable departure from his refusal to respond to questions from her team during a deposition that occurred a month before the suit was filed.
“He remains resolute in his stance that he has nothing to conceal, and he looks forward to educating the attorney general about the immense success of his multi-billion dollar company,” Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, said in a statement.
James was in the room for at least some of the meeting, the source said.
In a civil case, if a defendant asserts the Fifth Amendment, the jury can make what’s known as an “adverse inference” and place weight against Trump for refusing to answer questions.
Thursday’s appearance marked the first time Trump has been back in New York since he pleaded not guilty last week in Manhattan criminal court to 34 charges of falsifying business records following an investigation into hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
After Trump’s first sit-down in August, the former president and his legal team have been able to glean more knowledge about the allegations against him because documents and other materials have been turned over to them.
Trump’s three children named in the case were also deposed by the attorney general’s office last year, with Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., both providing answers to prosecutors, while Eric Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right in 2020 in response to more than 500 questions.
In a new campaign video released Thursday, Trump said that if elected he would appoint 100 new US attorneys to fight what he described as “Communist corruption,” as he railed against the US justice system and made baseless claims of bias by district attorneys across the nation.
The former president argued district attorneys and their staff in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles should be subpoenaed without providing any explanation or evidence for such an action. He promised to “completely overhaul the federal Department of Justice and FBI” and launch “sweeping civil rights investigations into Marxist local District Attorneys.”
He also said there would be a “complete investigation into the use of police state tactics by federal authorities to arrest conservatives and Christians.”
This headline and story have been updated with additional developments.