Trump testifies at his business fraud trial

November 6, 2023

Former President Trump on Monday ticked off a list of political grievances while on the witness stand in his business fraud civil trial in Manhattan—to the annoyance of the judge who’ll be ruling in the case.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James is suing former President Trump, his companies and its officers including Trump’s two adult sons over allegations of more than 200 instances bank, tax and insurance fraud over a 10-year period from 2011 to 2021.

On Monday, soon after New York State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron asked Trump to keep his political answers to a minimum, saying, “please no speeches,” the judge was compelled to ask the former President’s attorney, Chris Kise, “Can you control your client? This is not a political rally.”

The judge’s request came in response to Trump testifying, “I’m sure the judge will rule against me because he always rules against me,” claiming that the allegations against him were “well beyond the statute of limitations.”

Trump also said on the stand, “This is a very unfair trial. Very, very unfair, and I hope the public is watching it.”

Following Trump’s testimony, James spoke to reporters, asserting that the former President engaged in “distractions and name-calling.”

“But I will not be bullied, I will not be harassed,” James insisted. “This case will go on.”

Last week the former President’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump testified, both pleading ignorance about the Trump Organization’s financial statements and placing blame for any false reporting of finances on the company’s accountants—despite both of them admitting in court that they signed off on various financial statements when shown the documents by the prosecution.

The former President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, is scheduled to testify on Wednesday—after a bid that her legal team made to prevent her from testifying during a “school week” was rejected by the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division.

James told reporters she expects to wrap her case after Ivanka Trump testifies.

During a deposition related to the lawsuit in James’ office in August 2022, former President Trump pleaded the 5fth Amendment against self-recrimination more than 400 times.

As in a criminal trial, pleading the U.S. Constitution’s 5th Amendment in a civil trial means a sworn witness does not have to answer any questions put before them. However, dissimilar to a criminal trial, a judge or jury may draw “adverse inferences” in a civil case when one pleads the 5th. In other words, the judge or jury in a civil case may make a presumption of guilt on the part of a witness who pleads the 5th.

There is no jury in Trump’s civil trial. This past September, Engoron issued a summary judgment in the civil suit, agreeing with James’ allegations that Trump and his company and officers did in fact commit business fraud during the decade in question.

The summary judgment resolved the key claim in James’ lawsuit, but the other claims remain, including the amount of damages that will be levied. The New York Attorney General is suing Trump and the other defendants for $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in his home state.

According to the New York Times, Trump had privately told his advisors he was not concerned about his time on the witness stand. He held preparation sessions when he was in New York attending the trial and supposedly did so again over the weekend.

But the Times goes on to report that Trump is “deeply, personally enraged by this trial” and about the fact that his adult children have been compelled to testify. 

Trump re-posted on Monday morning several posts from five days ago on his platform Truth Social, where he called Judge Engoron a “political hack…doing the dirty work of the Democrat Party” and called James, who is Black, a “Racist,” capitalizing the word, and the civil trial “Rigged.” 

After he wrapped his testimony, Trump told reporters outside the courtroom, “I think the trial went very well.”

He then went on to call the case a “scam” and a “terrible thing that’s happening.”

PHOTO: Trump remarks on civil fraud trial last month

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