The legal troubles keep piling up for that band of grifters, so rapidly that it is hard to keep up. It is quite extraordinary how almost everyone in the family seems to be made of the same cloth. The only people who have not been implicated in one scheme or another are the youngest daughter Tiffany (age 28) and youngest son Barron (age 15).
On Monday, Trump’s longtime firm of accountants Mazars said in a statement that they would no longer represent the Trump organization and further added that the financial statements that had been issued for the years 2011-2020 could no longer be relied upon. The Trump organization has long been accused of playing fast and loose with the valuation of his properties and this seems likely to be connected to that.
That same day, a judge in Washington DC allowed a lawsuit alleging that funds designated for Trump’s 2016 inauguration had been misused to go ahead.
Then on Thursday a New York judge said that Trump and his son Donald Jr and daughter Ivanka must provide sworn depositions in the civil and criminal fraud investigation into his business dealings that are being conducted by New York attorney general Letitia James and the Manhattan district attorney. While they will very likely appeal the ruling, it is a blow.
A deposition is like an interview, usually held in a law office or conference room, except witnesses must swear an oath and could be subject to penalties if they commit perjury. They’re typically recorded.
Depositions, frequently depicted in legal dramas as pitting one side against the other across a table, are most common in civil litigation and are often used to obtain information or get someone’s answers on the record.
Since anything a person says in a civil deposition could also be used against them in a criminal investigation, witnesses are free to invoke their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent at any time.
So if he chooses, Trump could simply refuse to answer many questions.
This protection isn’t absolute. A person’s fear of prosecution has to be reasonable. And the fear must apply to the question that has been asked. For example, Trump likely couldn’t refuse to answer a question like, “How old are you?”
Refusing to answer the toughest questions could hurt Trump in any civil trial. A jury is allowed to know if a person has refused to answer, and is also allowed to infer that if the person had answered the question, it might make them look bad.
If they do end up having to testify, they may do what other son Eric and Trump’s chief business manager Allen Weisselberg did earlier and plead the Fifth Amendment. The two of them did that over 500 times in their deposition., but this carries its own risks.
Experts say a fraud case against Trump is no slam dunk. For Trump, though, nothing good can come out of testifying, even if he has done nothing wrong.
At best, it generates embarrassing headlines about a former president having to answer questions about his business practices.
He could get further embarrassed if he refuses to answer questions on the grounds that it might incriminate him. Some people will assume — perhaps wrongly — that it means he’s guilty.
The worst case scenario is that he reveals wrongdoing in the deposition that becomes the basis of either a lawsuit or a criminal charge. He could also get prosecuted for perjury if he lies.
I fully expect them to pleas the Fifth. That is their right but Trump has many times made the claim that the only people who take the Fifth are the guilty ones because if you are innocent, then there should be no problem in speaking the truth. Of course, if inconsistency and changing your stance to suit your own circumstances was a crime, Trump would be serving multiple life sentences already.
Then on Friday, yet another judge refused to dismiss several civil lawsuits brought against him as a result of the January 6th attacks on the Capitol.
One had to wonder how many lawyers must be involved in defending the Trump family and organization from all these cases. Given his reputation for stiffing those whose services he uses, one wonders if any of them will get paid.
Trump of course continues to bluster about his innocence and that all this is part of a vast conspiracy to bring him down. I am sure that many of is followers believe him.