Donald Trump testifies at Chicago trial
FILE - This March 15, 2013 file photo, Donald Trump speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. On Tuesday, May 14, 2013, Trump is expected to testify at federal court in Chicago where several of his companies have been named in a lawsuit filed by an 87-year-old investor who says she was lured into buying condos at his namesake Chicago skyscraper with promises of a profit-sharing deal that was later quietly withdrawn. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
CHICAGO (AP) — A sometimes prickly, sometimes boastful Donald Trump testified Tuesday at a civil trial where the developer-turned-TV personality is accused of using false promises to entice an 87-year-old investor into buying condos at his namesake Chicago skyscraper.
The real estate magnate — who gained famed for scrutinizing contestants and firing ones he deemed incompetent on his "Apprentice" TV show — was the one on the hot seat as a plaintiff's attorney grilled him over allegations he had engaged in a bait-and-switch.
Trump, who is scheduled to resume his testimony Wednesday, took the stand Tuesday afternoon for an hour's worth of often-blistering questions about the development of his glitzy Trump International Hotel & Tower.
Pacing the floor, attorney Shelly Kulwin balked aloud as Trump several times described himself as an accomplished executive who valued quality above all else.
Trump, 66, said he didn't like to boast — then went on to boast again and again.
"I don't want to be braggadocios: I build great buildings," he said.
Trump also bragged about raising financing to finish the Chicago building in 2009 despite a real estate market collapse because, he said, "I have a good reputation."
As the hour went by, questioning became increasingly aggressive and Trump more visibly annoyed, frowning as Kulwin raised his voice, stopped Trump mid-sentence and accused him of working "infomercials" into his testimony.
"He's not answering the questions, your honor. He's giving a speech," Kulwin said.
The crux of the case is whether, as the plaintiff alleges, Trump remained hands on in the development of the Chicago tower and planned all along to offer a profit-sharing plan to woo buyers and then to renege on it after they bought in.
Defense attorneys have tried to portray Trump as a big-picture executive who delegated the decision about pulling the profit-sharing plan to others.
But in his questioning Tuesday, Kulwin suggested Trump was so detail-oriented he even insisted that every advertisement for the hotel-condo development had to have a picture of him displayed prominently.
"No, that's not true at all," Trump shot back.
The trial stems from a lawsuit filed by the investor, Jacqueline Goldberg. She agreed in 2006 to buy two condos for around $1 million apiece at the 92-story luxury building. It boasts more than 300 hotel rooms and nearly 500 condominiums in a prime location — along the Chicago River and just two blocks from Michigan Avenue.