(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump arrived Thursday at the office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James for a deposition as part of her $250 million civil lawsuit against Trump and his namesake company — his first return to New York City since he pleaded not guilty last week to 34 felony charges brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Trump’s motorcade was seen entering a garage beneath the attorney general’s office near Wall Street.
James sued Trump last September, accusing him, his eldest children, the Trump Organization and some of its executives of scheming for more than a decade to manipulate Trump’s net worth and the value of his real estate holdings in order to receive more favorable terms on loans, taxes and insurance.
The trial is scheduled for October and, if James is successful, could result in a $250 million penalty and a ban on the defendants from operating a business in New York.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and, in a morning social media post ahead of the deposition, called James, who is black, “racist” and her lawsuit “ridiculous.”
Trump is facing deposition questions about his business practices and the reliability of financial statements prepared by the Trump Organization, but it remains to be seen whether he answers those questions or invokes his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the way he did hundreds of times last August when he sat for his first deposition as part of the case.
In a civil case, jurors are allowed to draw an adverse inference from a defendant’s choice to take the Fifth.
Trump’s legal team had sought to delay the October trial, but Judge Arthur Engoron said last month there was no need to postpone what he called a “seemingly simple case” of whether Trump’s disclosures to lenders and insurers were accurate or not.
“The issue is whether the statements were false,” Engoron said during a hearing last month. “This case is complex, but it is not complicated.”
Trump has complained about Engoron, writing in his Thursday morning social media post, “If I had a fair judge, this case would have never happened.”
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