In December, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that she was seeking to depose Donald Trump. When she made the announcement, The New York Times jumped in with its general dismissal of the idea that Trump could ever be caught doing anything wrong, saying, “Even if a judge sided with Ms. James, Mr. Trump could invoke his Fifth Amendment right and decline to respond to questions.”
Now we’re going to get a chance to see how Trump responds, because on Thursday Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that Trump must appear and be deposed in response to subpoenas sent by James. It’s possible that Trump will sit down and just repeatedly claim his rights under the Fifth Amendment. It’s even more likely that Trump will appeal this ruling and this whole business will begin again in an appeals court. But this is still a good step toward putting Trump on the stand.
Anyone, asked to testify in any case, can invoke their Fifth Amendment right. Anyone can choose to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. That doesn’t mean there’s no point in calling on people to testify. Not even Trump.
As the Associated Press reports, it’s not just Donald J. Trump who has been ordered to sit for a deposition—Ivanka and Donald Jr. are also required to sit down and raise their hands. All three are implicated in the investigation that has led Trump to sue in an attempt to block further hearings, and is directly connected to his own accounting firm firing him as a client. The investigation has also led to Trump making a number of less than friendly comments about James.
Eric Trump is not mentioned in the current set of subpoenas because James’ office already secured a court ruling for the middle Trump to appear—though at that hearing, Eric apparently followed the Times’ advice and invoked his Fifth Amendment rights repeatedly.
As Kerry Eleveld reported, Donald Trump also sat down for a four-and-a-half-hour deposition in another case related to protesters who sued him over an alleged assault by Trump’s security guards. Trump has previously testified in a number of civil proceedings, including those related to Trump University, and has often answered most questions—though he has sometimes displayed a pretense of being unaware of much of what took place at his organization.
But if Trump doesn’t appeal and does answer questions, maybe he can fill in some critical information, such as how big is Trump Tower? And how is it that the value of all his properties seems to rise before he applies for bank loans, and plummet when it’s time to pay taxes?
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.