Donald Trump refuses to answer questions in New York investigation

Former US President Donald Trump has said he declined to answer questions as part of a New York investigation into his family’s business practices.

Mr Trump arrived at the New York attorney general’s office on Wednesday.

State officials have accused the Trump Organization of obtaining tax breaks and loans through fraudulent or misleading asset valuations.

Mr Trump denies wrongdoing and has described the investigation as a political witch-hunt.

An hour after he was pictured arriving at the Manhattan office, Mr Trump released a statement in which he criticised New York Attorney General Letitia James and the broader investigation.

“Years of work and tens of millions of dollars have been spent on this long simmering saga, and to no avail,” he said. “I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.”

His deposition comes just days after the FBI executed an unprecedented search warrant at his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, as part of a separate investigation that is reportedly linked to his handling of classified material.

In the New York investigation, the attorney general had sought Mr Trump’s deposition – and that of two of his children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr – for more than six months while the family resisted subpoenas through the New York court system.

But in February, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that all three must all sit for depositions. Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr were questioned earlier this month.

At the time, the judge said the investigation had uncovered “copious evidence of possible financial fraud” giving the attorney general a “clear right” to question under oath the former president and two of his children involved in the business.

Lawyers for Mr Trump attempted to sue Ms James in a bid to prevent her from questioning the former president and his children.

Ms James, meanwhile, hailed the judge’s decision as a victory, saying that “justice has prevailed”.

The investigation, which was first opened in 2019, seeks to prove that Mr Trump and the Trump Organization inflated the value of assets to banks while seeking loans. The alleged fraud is said to have taken place before Mr Trump took office.

Officials from the attorney general’s office have said in recent court hearings that the civil investigation is nearing its conclusion. It is unclear what, if any, legal action will be taken once the investigation is over.

A parallel criminal investigation into the Trump Organization is being carried out by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, and this has led to tax fraud charges being filed against its long-time Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg. He has pleaded not guilty.

bbc.com