Former US president Donald Trump invoked his legal right not to answer questions more than 400 times during a deposition about alleged fraud at his family real estate business, US media reported on Thursday.
The 76-year-old Trump was questioned for four hours on Wednesday at the Manhattan office of Letitia James, the New York state attorney general, who is investigating the business practices of the Trump Organization.
The Washington Post said Trump stated his name and then cited the Fifth Amendment -- which allows individuals to decline to answer questions to avoid self-incrimination -- more than 400 times.
In response to queries from investigators about his businesses, property valuations and loans, Trump repeatedly replied "Same answer," the Post said, a reference to the Fifth Amendment.
NBC News, citing a source with knowledge of the deposition, said Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 440 times.
In a statement, Trump, whose Florida home was the target of an FBI search on Monday, defended his use of the Fifth Amendment.
"I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution," he said.
"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," he added.
He later described the deposition as "very professional."
"Have a fantastic company with great assets, very little debt, and lots of CASH. Only in America!" he wrote on his Truth Social site.
James suspects the Trump Organization fraudulently overstated the value of real estate properties when applying for bank loans, while understating them with tax authorities to pay less in taxes.
If James, a Democrat, finds any evidence of financial misconduct, she can sue the Trump Organization for damages but cannot file criminal charges since it is a civil investigation.
The Manhattan district attorney's office is running a parallel probe into the Trump Organization that does have the potential for criminal charges.
James's office confirmed Trump had "invoked his Fifth Amendment right" and said she will "pursue the facts and the law wherever they may lead."
The FBI and Justice Department have declined so far to publicly provide a reason for Monday's raid on Trump's palatial Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.
But US media outlets said it was a court-authorized search related to the potential mishandling of classified documents sent to Mar-a-Lago after Trump left the White House in January 2021.
Trump's myriad legal battles have the potential to complicate any bid for another run for the White House in 2024.
He is also facing legal scrutiny for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)