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Trump Pleads The Fifth In Real Estate Valuation Probe

Former President Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump is declining to answer questions in the case investigating whether he obtained fraudulent valuations on his company's real estate assets, the latest development in a three-year legal saga in New York.

Trump is refusing to answer questions on the advice of his counsel as he sits for deposition as part of the New York attorney general's investigation, according to an emailed statement reported by Bloomberg.

"I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question," the emailed statement said.

Attorney General Letitia James has been probing whether The Trump Organization used fraudulent valuations on its properties to secure lower tax bills and better loan terms on several of its properties, including its 40 Wall St. office tower and the Seven Springs estate in Westchester County.

Trump's deposition occurs after he was initially held in contempt of court and fined $110K for refusing to produce additional documents as part of the probe. A judge later purged that contempt charge after he produced additional documents. 

The deposition was delayed by a month following the death of Trump's former wife, Ivana Trump.

Two of Trump's children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, have also agreed to sit for questioning for as many as seven hours. Eric Trump was deposed in 2020, and he reportedly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights more than 500 times during questioning.

The deposition occurs one day after the New York attorney general's office also received 36,000 documents from Cushman & Wakefield as part of the Trump probe. Cushman & Wakefield, named as a respondent in the suit against Trump, had previously been held in contempt after refusing to hand over the documents. 

In a separate investigation, Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence was raided Monday by FBI investigators searching for documents that may have been illegally taken from the White House.

Trump decried the raid, calling it "prosecutorial misconduct." He has also pushed back against James' investigation and filed an unsuccessful lawsuit in federal court attempting to block the case from proceeding.