Trump’s ‘only out’ in New York fraud probe will be pleading the Fifth: MSNBC legal analyst
Donald Trump at a campaign rally at the Giant Center in 2019. (Evan El-Amin /

Donald Trump once suggested that only mobsters plead the Fifth Amendment, but that's what a criminal defense attorney may soon advise him to do.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has requested a deposition from Trump on Jan. 7 as part of her civil investigation into whether his company engaged in fraud.

Appearing on MSNBC on Thursday night, Georgetown University law professor Paul Butler drew a distinction between James' civil investigation and the ongoing criminal probe led by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, which also focuses on potential fraud by the Trump Organization.

"In a criminal case, prosecutors don't get to take depositions of a suspect, but in a civil case, anybody can be forced to answer questions," Butler explained. "So if Trump does not show up for this deposition on Jan. 7, James can haul him into court, just like she did with Eric Trump, the president's son. As part of this same investigation, Eric Trump was forced to sit for a deposition."

"Trump's only out will be to claim the Fifth Amendment," Butler added. "That might work since Trump has criminal exposure from the DA investigation. So Trump's criminal defense lawyer will probably tell him to take the Fifth, on the grounds that his answers could incriminate him, but Trump's political advisers might not like that."

Watch below.

Paul Butler on Trump fraud probe