Trump invokes Fifth Amendment more than 440 times in one deposition

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Hilton Anatole on August 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.
DALLAS, TEXAS - AUGUST 06: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Hilton Anatole on August 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. Photo credit Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right more than 440 times on Wednesday during a deposition by lawyers from New York Attorney General Letitia James' office, according to multiple sources.

James' office has been investigating the Trump Organization's business practices since 2020 and Wednesday's deposition lasted four hours.

During the deposition, Trump answered only one question by providing his name when asked for after he was sworn in as a witness, Trump attorney Ron Fischetti told NBC News.

Trump made only one "detailed comment" in which he attacked James and her inquiry, according to The New York Times.

"Trump repeated the words 'same answer' from about 9:30 a.m. to around 3 p.m., with a long break for lunch and several shorter breaks," per The New York Times.

In a statement, Trump called the investigation a "politically motivated Witch Hunt."

"I once asked, 'If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?'" Trump said in a statement. "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.

"Accordingly, under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution."

Trump was legally allowed to refuse to answer questions, CNBC noted, and James was present for about half of the deposition, according to Fischetti. Her office is reportedly considering if they will file a civil suit against Trump and his company.

“While we will not comment on specific details, we can confirm that today, our office conducted a deposition of former president Donald Trump," a spokesperson for James' office said in a statement. "Attorney General Letitia James took part in the deposition during which Mr. Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination."

Fischetti told CNN that Trump wanted to testify "very badly," but took the advice to not answer questions.

“He absolutely wanted to testify, and it took some very strong persuasion by me and some others to convince him,” Mr. Fischetti said, per The New York Times.

In the past, Trump has been very outspoken about invoking Fifth Amendment rights and said that those who do are admitting to wrongdoing. In 2016 at a rally in Iowa, Trump questioned those who invoke Fifth Amendment rights while discussing "investigations into Hillary Clinton’s handling of potentially classified material as secretary of state."

“So there are five people taking the Fifth Amendment, like you see on the mob, right? You see the mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?," Trump said in 2016, according to The New York Times.

“When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment, taking the Fifth, so they’re not prosecuted, when you have the man that set up the illegal server taking the Fifth, I think it’s disgraceful," Trump said during a presidential debate while talking about Clinton using a private email server.