New video obtained by CBS News shows former President Donald Trump repeatedly refusing to answer questions in a deposition last summer for the New York attorney general’s investigation into fraud at his company.
CBS News released clips and a description of the hourslong footage on Tuesday after obtaining it through a Freedom of Information Act request. Though a transcript of the deposition had already been made available, this is the first time the public can see portions of it on video.
Before answering investigators’ questions, Trump is seen denouncing New York Attorney General Letitia James’ probe into his business dealings ― which a month later resulted in a lawsuit against the former president, three of his children and the Trump Organization for an alleged tax-dodging scheme.
“She knows nothing about us,” Trump says of James vowing to look into his real estate business. “This is what she knew: absolutely nothing about us. It was very unfair. This whole thing is very unfair.”
Once the questioning began, the 2024 presidential candidate went on to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights more than 440 times, news reports at the time found. The video released Tuesday shows him defending that decision.
“If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment? I was asking that question,” he said. “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 even the fake news media, you really have no choice.”
“Anyone in my position not taking the Fifth Amendment would be a fool, an absolute fool,” he continued.
Trump previously was highly critical of people pleading the Fifth and slammed it as a technique for organized criminals.
“The mob takes the Fifth,” he said in 2016. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”