Donald Trump's New York business investigation: Timeline of events
- Donald Trump pleaded the 5th during his deposition at Attorney General Letitia James' office
- The deposition is linked to the ongoing Trump Organization case
- This foillows days after FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago mansion
Former US President Donald Trump arrived for his deposition at the New York attorney general's office on Wednesday where he invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination as he testified under oath.
The deposition was part of a long-running civil investigation into his business dealings. Trump had denied any wrongdoing and had described the civil investigation as a witch-hunt.
Trump released a statement following the deposition in which he criticized New York Attorney General Letitia James and the broader investigation.
“I once asked, If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?' 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,” his statement reads.
Refusing to answer questions under oath, Trump bristled with defiance. The divisive entrepreneur-turned-politician, who previously dismissed the 5th Amendment, seems to have found merits in the same.
The civil case launched by AG Letitia James- dating back to March 2019- alleges that the Trump Organization misreported property values when filing their taxes, reaping several ill-gotten financial gains.
Investigations began after Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen testified before Congress, accusing him of fraud. The probe centres around his Seven Springs property in Westchester County, New York.
James subpoenaed Trump Organizations, seeking clarifications regarding the $21 million tax deduction claimed against the property in 2015. Court filings suggest that Trump may have inflated the property's value to claim a larger tax benefit.
Also under the scanner are Trump's failure to pay taxes against debt waivered for the financial restructuring of the Trump Hotel & Tower in Chicago and the estimates for Los Angeles' Trump National Golf Club.
A brief timeline of events
October 2020: AG James deposes Trump's son, Eric. She seeks out records from the ex-prez's tax lawyers. They refuse, citing attorney-client privilege.
January 29, 2021: NY state court judge dismisses their plea, ruling that the tax attorneys must hand over necessary documents.
May 18, 2021: Fabian Levy, New York AG's spokesperson, declares that the investigations against Trump Organization will not be "purely civil in nature" but will expand to take in "a criminal capacity, along with Manhattan District Attorney."
December 9, 2021: Washington Post reports that AG James wishes to depose Donald Trump as part of investigations.
December 20, 2021: Trump files a lawsuit against AG James, citing political motivations. He uses her social media posts as an example.
January 1, 2022: James' office subpoenas Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. The Trumps move to revoke the subpoenas. Arguing that since a joint criminal investigation is underway against the Trumps, a regular civil subpoena won't do. Instead, a grand jury must sit in parlance to question the Trump children.
February 17, 2022: State Court dismisses Trump's challenge, ruling that the Trump children and Trump himself must appear for questioning under oath. The judge instructs the Trumps to report for depositions within 21 days.
February 28, 2022: The Trumps appeal against the Court's deposition orders.
March 3, 2022: The depositions are delayed till after the court rules on the Trumps appeal.
April 7, 2022: James' office files a motion in NY's state court. The motion charges Trump to be in contempt for failing to submit the required documents. It also includes a request for a fine of $10,000 daily till Trump complies.
April 25, 2022: NY State judge upholds the motion.
April 27, 2022: Trump hits back with an appeal while also cheekily requesting the courts to hit pause on the fine.
May 11, 2022: The trial court agrees to do away with the fine, but demands he cough up the remaining $110,000 by 20th May. Trump pays the sum, but his contempt ruling is not revoked.
May 26, 2022: New York appeals court rules that Trump Sr., Trump Jr. and Ivanka appear for questioning at James' office, rejecting many of Trump's pleas.
May 27, 2022: New York court rejects Trump's lawsuit against AG James. The court argues that the suit was voided under The Younger Doctrine.
June 8, 2022: They agree to appear before AG James in mid-July, but hold on hope for an appeal at New York High Court to rule in their favour.
June 14, 2022: The New York court declines to hear their appeal, paving the way for a meeting between the Trump and AG James during the July 15 week.
August 10th, 2022: Trump deposes before AG James but pleads the fifth.