Newly released video obtained by CBS News offers the first look at former President Donald Trump’s deposition last summer in the New York attorney general’s civil fraud investigation.
Trump sat down for the hearing under oath on August 10, and the video showed him politely answering State Attorney General Letitia James’ opening questions.
Sitting in front of a camera in a downtown Manhattan conference room wearing a dark blue suit, red tie and an American flag lapel pin, Trump replied, “Yes,” when asked if he was familiar with the rules for giving a deposition. But as questions about his finances began in earnest, the former president and now candidate for the same office invoked the Fifth Amendment and continued to do so for nearly four hours.
Transcripts of portions of Trump’s deposition were included as an exhibit filed by the New York Attorney General’s office on Oct. 13. A $250 million lawsuit Against Trump, his three children and his company. Those sections of Trump’s affidavit will no longer be confidential once the exhibit is filed. That office initially denied CBS News’ request, under New York’s Freedom of Information Act, for a video attached to those transcript portions. An appeals officer reversed that decision.
“What you say on this exam may be used in civil proceedings, and that could include civil enforcement action or criminal action. Do you understand that?” James asked.
“I think so,” Trump replied.
“Is that so?” James asked.
“I don’t know what I did wrong, but the answer is yes, I understand,” Trump said.
“You have the right to refuse to answer any question if the true answer to the question incriminates you. Do you understand that?” James continued.
“Yes,” Trump replied.
“Your deliberate misrepresentation may constitute perjury. Do you understand that, sir?”
After preliminary questions were concluded, Trump was given an opportunity to read a prepared statement on the record.
He began with a familiar refrain: “This is the biggest witch hunt in our country’s history.” He called James “a renegade and out-of-control prosecutor” and accused his office’s investigation into his financial practices of having political motives.
A month later, on September 21, James announced His office case Trump has accused his three children and his company of a long-running scheme to inflate the value of their assets. The Trumps have denied wrongdoing.
“This whole thing is so unfair,” Trump says in the deposition video.
“Anyone in my position who doesn’t take the Fifth Amendment is an idiot, an absolute idiot,” Trump said, adding, on the advice of counsel, “I respectfully decline to answer questions about the rights and privileges granted to every citizen under the United States Constitution.”
“And this is my answer to any questions.”
Kevin Wallace, senior enforcement counsel for the attorney general’s office, noted that “for the record” the report was “long” and that “obviously, we disagree with many of the characterizations.” Wallace then began his questioning, which would comprise the bulk of the deposition.
Initially, Trump responded to the three questions by saying, “For all the reasons presented in my answer, which is attached hereto in its entirety, I decline to answer the question.”
Wallace told Trump he could say “the same answer” — “speed up.”
Trump did so more than 400 times during the entire interview, according to the New York attorney general’s court filing. Once the deposit is complete, trump issued a public statement He declined to answer, saying he was exercising his Fifth Amendment right.
During a segment question, Wallace asked Trump about his financial status reports, which have been submitted every year since 2011. In February 2022, The accounting firm that produced them Retracting its work, it said the reports “should no longer be relied upon”.
“The valuations in this document reflect inaccurate and misleading valuation statements; is that correct?” Wallace asked.
“Same answer,” Trump replied.
Did he “know” that they “contain false and misleading statements”?
Even as he answered question after question with “the same answer,” Trump studied the financial documents Wallace handed him, crossed his arms and leaned forward.
Wallace also asked about the involvement of former Trump Organization chief financial officer Alan Weiselberg — who now serves Five months imprisonment for tax fraud – and current company controller Jeffrey McConey.
The two executives are among those named as defendants in the New York attorney general’s $250 million lawsuit, which seeks to bring the company’s operations to its knees in the state. The lawsuit alleges that the Trumps and their company engaged in an extensive fraud scheme over several years surrounding property value manipulations. In addition to financial penalties, the attorney general’s office is seeking a freeze on the company’s operations in New York and sanctions against the four Trumps.
“From at least 2005 to the present, you continued to contract with Mr. Weiselberg and Mr. McConey to prepare statements of financial position in a manner that included estimates based on false and misleading assumptions. Inflating the reported values; is that correct?” Wallace asked on the record. The company has denied the New York attorney general’s allegations against it and any of its executives.
“Same answer,” Trump said.
McConey and Weiselberg were key witnesses in a separate criminal case brought by the Manhattan district attorney against two Trump Organization entities. A jury last month Punished 17 companies Related to tax fraud stems from various schemes that reduce payroll liability while offering high tax-free bonuses and high tax-free benefits to executives. Weiselberg entered separately Confession of guilt In the case
The New York Attorney General’s civil suit is set for trial on October 2. The judge in the case has rejected repeated attempts by Trump lawyers to push back that date.