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Former President Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment rights in a deposition as part of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into his family’s business practices—just days after the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago home in connection with an investigation into classified records he allegedly took with him when he left the White House—but investigations are nothing new for Donald Trump.
Trump's presidency was clouded by investigations—several into whether he colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, some focused on his finances and others that led to impeachment, making him the first president in United States history to have been impeached twice.
Trump’s post-presidential life is reminiscent of his days in the Oval Office, marred by probes, which the former president and his allies say are all just part of an effort by his political opponents to prevent him from running for re-election in 2024.
This week alone, Trump, again, found himself in the line of fire.
TRUMP INVOKES FIFTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS IN DEPOSITION FOR NEW YORK AG JAMES' CIVIL INVESTIGATION
FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago
Early Monday morning, the FBI, in an unprecedented move, raided Trump’s private residence at Mar-a-Lago in connection with an investigation into classified records the former president allegedly took with him from the White House.
Sources told Fox News that FBI agents would not allow Trump’s attorneys to watch as they raided the former president's private residence. One source said FBI agents took boxes and documents without reviewing them on the property—only to investigate them later.
The raid was related to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which said earlier this year that Trump took 15 boxes of presidential records to his personal residence in Florida. Those boxes allegedly contained “classified national security information,” and official correspondence between Trump and foreign heads of state.
NARA notified Congress in February that the agency recovered the 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago and “identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes.” The matter was referred to the Justice Department by NARA.
FBI WOULD NOT LET TRUMP ATTORNEYS IN ROOMS AS AGENTS RAIDED MAR-A-LAGO, WARRANT FOCUSED ON NARA: SOURCE
Trump, earlier this year, said the National Archives didn’t “find” the documents, but that they were “given, upon request.” Sources close to the former president said he had been cooperating and there was “no need” for the raid.
Classified material that was reportedly confiscated by the FBI during the raid Monday included a letter to Trump from former President Obama, a letter from Kim Jong Un, a birthday dinner menu, and a cocktail napkin.
Trump's tax returns probe
Then, on Tuesday, a federal appeals court paved the way for the House Ways and Means Committee to finally obtain Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service—something the panel has been trying to obtain since 2019, under a law that permits the disclosure of an individual's tax returns to the congressional committee.
Trump may seek emergency intervention measures from the Supreme Court in an attempt to temporarily block any release of these tax records.
Civil investigation into Trump Organization
And on Wednesday, Trump appeared in downtown New York City for his deposition before New York Attorney General Letitia James. James’ office has been conducting a civil investigation into the Trump Organization to find out whether Trump and his company improperly inflated the value of assets on financial statements in order to obtain loans and tax benefits.
“I did nothing wrong, which is why, after five years of looking, the Federal, State and local governments, together with the Fake News Media, have found nothing,” Trump said in a statement Wednesday morning.
“The United States Constitution exists for this very purpose, and I will utilize it to the fullest extent to defend myself against this malicious attack by this administration, this Attorney General’s Office, and all other attacks on my family, my business, and our Country.”
TRUMP RAID LINKED TO DOJ, NATIONAL ARCHIVES PROBE INTO CLASSIFIED DOCS ALLEGEDLY TAKEN TO MAR-A-LAGO
“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” he continued. “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 the Fake News Media, you have no choice.”
“If there was any question in my mind, the raid of my home, Mar-a-Lago, on Monday by the FBI, just two days prior to this deposition, wiped out any uncertainty,” Trump said. “I have absolutely no choice because the current Administration and many prosecutors in this Country have lost all moral and ethical bounds of decency.”
He added: “Accordingly, under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.”
A spokesperson for the New York State Attorney General’s Office confirmed that the office conducted Trump’s deposition.
“Attorney General Letitia James took part in the deposition during which Mr. Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination,” the spokesperson said. “Attorney General James will pursue the facts and the law wherever they may lead.”
The spokesperson added: “Our investigation continues.”
TRUMP TO BE DEPOSED IN JAMES' INVESTIGATION WEDNESDAY
But Trump’s Republican allies are seeing a pattern, and encouraging him to continue to fight back.
“Before he's in the White House, they go after him. While he's in the White House, they go after him, and they're continuing to do so now that he's left,” the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told Fox News. “It actually started before he was even president.”
FBI's Crossfire Hurricane probe
When Trump took office in January 2017, the FBI was in the middle of conducting a counterintelligence investigation into whether candidate Donald Trump and members of his campaign were colluding or coordinating with Russia to influence the 2016 election. That investigation was referred to inside the bureau as “Crossfire Hurricane,” and began on July 31, 2016.
That investigation was opened, despite then-CIA Director John Brennan briefing then-President Obama on July 28, 2016 about a purported proposal from one of Hillary Clinton's campaign foreign policy advisers “to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.”
In September 2016, the CIA properly forwarded that information through a Counterintelligence Operational Lead (CIOL) to then-FBI Director James Comey and then-Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok, with the subject line: “Crossfire Hurricane.”
Fox News first obtained and reported on the CIOL, which stated: “The following information is provided for the exclusive use of your bureau for background investigative action or lead purposes as appropriate.”
DESPITE ACQUITTAL, DURHAM TRIAL OF SUSSMANN ADDED TO EVIDENCE CLINTON CAMPAIGN PLOTTED TO TIE TRUMP TO RUSSIA
“An exchange [REDACTED] discussing US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning US presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering US elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server,” the referral states.
It is unclear how the FBI handled that memo.
Special Counsel John Durham is currently investigating the origins of the FBI's Trump-Russia probe.
But after Trump’s victory and during the presidential transition period, Comey briefed Trump on the now-infamous anti-Trump dossier, containing salacious allegations of purported coordination between Trump and the Russian government. It was authored by Christopher Steele, an ex-British intelligence officer.
The DOJ inspector general later revealed that the unverified dossier helped serve as the basis for controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants obtained against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
It is now widely known that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded the dossier through the law firm Perkins Coie.
HILLARY CLINTON APPROVED DISSEMINATION OF TRUMP-RUSSIAN BANK ALLEGATIONS TO MEDIA, CAMPAIGN MANAGER TESTIFIES
During the early months of Trump’s administration, Jeff Sessions, who served as attorney general at the time, recused himself from oversight of the FBI’s Russia investigation, due to his involvement with the Trump campaign, per Justice Department regulations. Then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was then tasked with oversight of the investigation.
Trump, in May 2017, fired then-FBI Director James Comey. Comey, during his June 2017 testimony to Congress, said he deliberately leaked a memo from a key meeting with Trump to a friend after he was fired in order to prompt the appointment of a special counsel.
“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter—I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel,” Comey testified.
Mueller's investigation and report
Days after Comey was fired, Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to take over the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe.
The Mueller investigation clouded the Trump administration for nearly two years.
DECLASSIFIED TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE DOCS TO DATE: WHAT TO KNOW
Simultaneously, investigations into Trump-Russia allegations were launched on Capitol Hill—in both chambers of Congress.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Intelligence Committee opened investigations into whether Trump and members of his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential race.
Neither the House nor Senate investigation found evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia.
After nearly two years, Mueller’s investigation, which concluded in March 2019, yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller, though, did not draw a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice. At the time, then-Attorney General Bill Barr and Rosenstein concluded the evidence from the Mueller case was “not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
Once Mueller’s findings were made public, congressional Democrats seized on the issue of obstruction of justice, and began ramping up investigations on matters that spanned from Trump’s personal finances to security clearances for Trump administration officials, all whilst the drumbeat of impeachment built within the House Democratic caucus.
Investigations led by House Democrats
In March 2019, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., announced a wide-ranging probe into almost every aspect of Trump’s administration, business ventures, and family dealings, subpoenaing more than 81 individuals and entities to investigate “alleged obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses of power by President Trump.”
FLASHBACK: IMPEACHMENT DRUMBEAT BUILDS ON LEFT, AS HOUSE SHIFTS PROBES INTO HIGH GEAR
But Nadler wasn’t alone— a number of other House panels also stepped up inquiries.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee, which was chaired, at the time, by Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., dissolved the panel’s subcommittee on terrorism and re-directed those resources to a subcommittee dedicated, instead, to investigations related to Trump—specifically his relationships and communications with foreign officials, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Congressional committees, at the time, were also seeking access to State Department employees and contractors with knowledge of Trump's communications with Putin, including the “linguists, translators, or interpreters” who participated in or listened to Trump-Putin meetings.
FLASHBACK: SCHIFF SAYS THERE IS ‘DIRECT EVIDENCE' OF COLLUSION BETWEEN TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who pushed the Trump-Russia collusion narrative for years, in 2019, continued his investigation into the matter, claiming he had evidence of collusion, despite Mueller’s findings.
Declassified transcripts from House Intelligence Committee interviews, which Fox News first reported on in 2020, revealed, among other things, that top Obama officials acknowledged they had no “empirical evidence” of collusion or a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.
Also in the spring of 2019, the House Ways and Means Committee sued the Trump administration, accusing officials of violating federal law by refusing to comply with the panel’s requests and subpoenas for documents related to Trump’s tax returns.
TRUMP SUES HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE, NEW YORK STATE OFFICIALS TO PROTECT HIS TAX RETURNS
The House Oversight Committee, at the time, also subpoenaed Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA LLC for his financial information, including annual statements, periodic financial reports and independent auditor reports from Mazars, as well as all communications with Trump.
Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee also subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Capital One over Trump’s financial statements.
In the middle of the congressional investigations into his finances, Trump’s business dealings were also being probed in two separate investigations in New York— one by then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and the other by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Trump’s administration was even being investigated by the House Oversight Committee over security clearances given to officials, probing the process that gave clearances to White House staff.
FLASHBACK: DEM-LED HOUSE PANEL LAUNCHES NEW PROBE INTO TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SECURITY CLEARANCES
Ukraine call and first impeachment
But everything came to a head in July 2019—Trump had a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
During that call, Trump pressed Zelenskyy to launch investigations into the Biden family’s actions and business dealings in Ukraine—specifically Hunter Biden’s ventures with Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings. Hunter Biden, at the time, was, and still is, under federal criminal investigation for his tax affairs, prompted by suspicious foreign transactions.
The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and some witnesses have cited as a quid pro quo arrangement. Democrats also claimed Trump was meddling in the next presidential election by asking a foreign leader to look into a Democratic political opponent.
Trump’s conversation with Zelenskyy prompted a whistleblower complaint, which led to the House impeachment inquiry, and ultimately, impeachment proceedings in the Senate.
FLASHBACK: IMPEACHMENT NUMBER ONE: SENATE ACQUITS TRUMP ON ABUSE OF POWER, OBSTRUCTION OF CONGRESS CHARGES
The House voted to impeach Trump in December 2019 on two counts— abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Senate voted for acquittal in February 2020.
“At some point, you got to ask, you know, the motive,” Jordan said of the investigations. “And the motive is this guy came to town and shook up the place—he changed the clique that exists there in D.C., he took on the clique and the bureaucracy and everything else, and the folks there said, no, we just can't have this, and that's why they go after him so hard.”
Weeks after Trump’s first acquittal, in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the world, shutting down the U.S. economy and global markets, with millions of people around the world contracting the novel coronavirus.
Trump was accused, throughout, of not taking the virus seriously. Democratic senators, including now-Vice President Kamala Harris, called for an investigation into the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats also said they would create a 9/11-style commission to probe Trump’s response.
The Trump administration, though, launched Operation Warp Speed—a public-private partnership to create vaccines against the novel coronavirus, as the pandemic raged in 2020. Under his administration, the Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
FLASHBACK: WARREN, SENATE DEMOCRATS CALL FOR INVESTIGATION INTO TRUMP ADMINISTRATION RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS
Trump in December 2020 signed an executive order that would ensure all Americans had access to coronavirus vaccines before the U.S. government could begin aiding nations around the world.
Russian bounties to kill U.S. troops
In another congressional probe, during the pandemic, Trump was hammered by Democrats over when he was briefed, and his response to Moscow, related to intelligence that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops.
A year later, during the Biden administration, officials admitted that intelligence was unverified.
2020 presidential election
Throughout 2020, Trump was also criticized for questioning the security of the upcoming presidential election, and for repeatedly saying it would be “rigged” due to the pandemic-era process of mail-in ballots.
Biden won the 2020 election, but Trump claimed it was stolen, and his legal team filed a slew of lawsuits in battleground states across the nation.
FLASHBACK: IMPEACHMENT NUMBER TWO: TRUMP ACQUITTED IN SECOND IMPEACHMENT TRIAL ON CHARGE OF INCITING JAN. 6 CAPITOL RIOT
January 6 riot and second impeachment
On Jan. 6, 2021, pro-Trump rioters breached the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College results in favor of President Biden. Trump was permanently banned from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube after the riot.
The House of Representatives then drafted articles of impeachment against him again, and ultimately voted to impeach him on a charge of inciting an insurrection for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot—making him the first and only president to be impeached, and ultimately acquitted, twice in history.
Trump legal's team denounced the proceedings as an unconstitutional “sham impeachment” against a private citizen, driven by Democrats' “hatred” for Trump and desire to silence a political opponent.
The Senate voted to acquit, but had Trump been convicted, the Senate would have moved to bar the 45th president from holding federal office ever again, preventing a 2024 White House run.
When Trump left office, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol began its probe into the Capitol riot.
JAN. 6 COMMITTEE AIMS TO SHOW ‘TRUMP WAS AT THE CENTER' OF PLOT TO OVERTURN ELECTION WITH PRIMETIME HEARING
That committee has spent more than a year investigating, and launched a series of hearings this summer, some during primetime, in an attempt to capture Americans’ attention before the November midterm elections—as they compete with record-high inflation, record-high gas prices, shortages in baby formula, a looming recession, and more for political attention.
Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks, R-Ind., who met with Trump at Bedminster Tuesday evening, reflected on the series of investigations, and said “America has never had a fighter like Donald Trump, and that’s why the American people love him.”
“Now, more than ever, we need Donald Trump back in the White House to fight for America,” Banks said. “He has taken a beating from the left, from the left-wing media, from the swamp—and each and every time, he gets back up and keeps fighting back and that’s why he enjoys so much support from House Republicans.”
Potential Trump 2024 presidential run
Jordan told Fox News that Democrats are “afraid he is going to run again, which I want him to do.”
“And he’s going to win,” Jordan said. “He’s going to come and continue to shake up the town and stand up for ‘We the People,’ and not the bureaucratic swamp.”
GOP REP. BANKS SAYS TRUMP ‘FIRED UP' AFTER FBI RAID, ‘MADE UP HIS MIND' ON 2024: ‘GOING TO LIKE HIS DECISION'
And Banks told Fox News that what happened at Mar-a-Lago “unifies Republicans in our outrage.”
“It will only backfire on the left as they see that the American people stand with President Trump,” Banks said. “And all of the investigations that have added up over the years–this should not happen in America.”
Banks told Fox News that should the Republicans take back the majority in the House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections, Jordan will be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
“If there has ever been the right guy, in the right place in American politics—it is going to be Jim Jordan chairing the House Judiciary Committee,” he said. “Those committee hearings should be on primetime—on live television—for the American people to tune in.”
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He added: “Jordan is going to lead the effort to hold the Justice Department accountable in a way that, right now, they deserve more than ever.”
As for Trump, Banks told Fox News that the former president “has made up his mind” about whether he will run for re-election in 2024—a decision he will make public in “a matter of time.”
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