'The mob takes the Fifth': Trump's old words may come back to haunt him
Donald Trump (AFP)

Will former President Donald Trump plead the Fifth? It's a question that looms over the former president as he faces multiple investigations for his personal and professional activities. A new analysis is explaining why that move might be potentially damaging for potential criminal defense, according to WFLA.

Now that Trump and his two oldest children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., have been subpoenaed to testify, his lawyers will likely file an appeal to Judge Arthur Engoron in hopes of blocking New York Attorney General Letitia James' investigative probe. However, if Trump's appeal fails he would be faced with two options: answering critical, and possibly incriminating, questions under oath or invoking his Firth Amendment right and remaining silent.

However, the latest report highlights the contradiction in the latter. Trump, himself, previously described pleading the Fifth as a suggestion of guilt.

“The mob takes the Fifth,” Trump previously said during a campaign rally in Iowa during his run for president. Back in 2014, Trump tweeted a similar statement amid the onslaught of sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby.

“If you are innocent, do not remain silent,” Trump tweeted at the time. “You look guilty as hell!”

While Trump may have that option on the table, Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor, explained the types of consequences and political risks the former president would be taking by invoking his Fifth Amendment rights.

“For a former president and potential candidate for the office to take the Fifth would really be remarkable,” said Gillers. “The problem with appearing — at least as his lawyers will see it — is that Trump can’t be controlled and he’s likely to say things that will cause more trouble for him and his family.”

Trump's attorneys also echoed similar sentiments as they suggested pleading the Fifth could be subsequently damaging if they have to present a criminal defense. During a court hearing on Thursday, attorney Ronald Fischetti weighed in.

“If he goes in and follows my advice, which will be you cannot answer these questions without … immunity because that’s what the law provides," Fischetti said, adding, "and take the Fifth Amendment, that’ll be on every front page in the newspaper in the world. And how can I possibly pick a jury in that case?”

The latest comes after Engoron refused Trump's attorneys' requests to delay testimonies until after the completion of the criminal investigation which would give Trump the advantage of not having to plead the Fifth.

Per WFLA, Engoron argued that the "target of an investigation, he said, 'cannot use the Fifth Amendment as both a sword and a shield; a shield against questions and a sword against the investigation itself.'"

Engoron also noted that when the members of the Trump family are deposed, they “will have the right to refuse to answer any questions that they claim might incriminate them, and that refusal may not be commented on or used against them in a criminal prosecution. However, there is no unfairness in allowing the jurors in a civil case to know these refusals and to draw their own conclusions.”