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Donald Trump was rebuked by Judge Arthur Engoron for giving “speeches” during his testimony on Monday before New York court in a civil fraud trial that will determine the future of his business empire. At one point Engoron warned the former president’s attorneys that he would dismiss Trump from the stand if they did not get him under control.
“I beseech you to control him if you can,” Engoron said. “If you can’t, I will. I will excuse him and draw every negative inference that I can.”
The warning came after the judge repeatedly cautioned Trump against delivering political diatribes in lieu of answers. “Some of your answers have not been in response to the question,” Engoron told Trump earlier in his testimony, adding that prosecuting attorney Kevin Wallace had been “very patient.”
After repeated attempts to get Trump’s testimony back on track, Engoron told Trump’s attorneys that “this is not a political rally” and suggested that maybe they “need to have a talk with him right now.”
Trump opened his testimony by accusing Wallace and “every other Democrat […] coming after me from 15 different sides” of being all “haters.” A visibly frustrated Engoron repeatedly pushed Trump to answer the questions posed by the state’s attorneys before asking his attorneys if they could “control” their client, but the situation continued to spiral.
Trump attorney Alina Habba at one point stood up and argued that the judge was there to listen to what Trump had to say. “I am not here to listen to what he has to say!” Engoron reportedly shouted, telling Trump’s counsel to sit back down. “We are here to hear him answer questions,” he added.
“This is a very, very unfair trial, very. And I hope the public is watching it,” Trump quipped.
The former president, his adult sons, and several of his business associates were already found liable for fraud by Judge Arthur Engoron in September, who ruled that Trump’s flagship company, the Trump Organization, overvalued his properties and inflated his net worth over several years. Engoron ordered the dissolution of the company’s business licenses and LLCs, with the trial determining what damages and penalties are owed by the defendants.
On Monday, Trump was questioned on the manner in which his company’s financial statements were created, and whether or not he felt the valuations of his assets had been accurate. At one point he indicated that he had sometimes felt the values assigned to his properties were off, but stated that the discrepancies were both “high and low.”
Trump also told the court that if he’d wanted to inflate his net worth, he would have done it by adding “brand value here and I would’ve increased it by tens of millions of dollars.”At one point, while he was being questioned on a 2021 financial statement, Trump claimed to have been too busy focusing on “China, Russia and keeping our country safe.” The state’s attorney reminded him that he was not president in 2021.
New York Attorney General Letitia James addressed reporters before court on Monday, calling out Trump’s attempts to discredit her and the case. “Before he takes the stand, I am certain that he will engage in name-calling, and taunts, and race-baiting, and call this a witch hunt,” she said. “But at the end of the day, the only thing that matters are the facts and the numbers. And numbers, my friends, don’t lie.”
Trump has been doing exactly that. Hours before appearing in court, the former president took to Truth Social to attack Engoron, James, and President Joe Biden. “Getting ready to head to the Downtown Lower Manhattan Courthouse to testify in one of the many cases that were instigated and brought by my POLITICAL OPPONENT, Crooked Joe Biden, through agencies and surrogates, for purposes of ELECTION INTERFERENCE,” Trump wrote.
“Got a really Biased, Nasty, Club controlled, but often overturned, Judge, a Racist, Evil, and Corrupt Attorney General,” he added.” A dark day for our Country. WITCH HUNT!”
Trump defended himself outside the courtroom. “These are political operatives that I’m going to be dealing with right now,” he told reporters, again calling James a “racist” and claiming that he had actually undervalued his properties and assets on his financial statements.
It's a day that ends in y which means Trump is in a NYC courthouse whining that Mar-a-Lago is worth more than the Taj Mahal pic.twitter.com/iTV0yTbNut
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 6, 2023
Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Jr., have already testified before the court. Both claimed that they had no involvement in preparing the Trump Organization’s financial statements despite serving as executive vice presidents for the company, and claimed to recall little of the communications with other company staff presented by the prosecution. Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who was dismissed as a defendant in the case earlier this year, is expected to take the stand later this week.
The trial has featured plenty of contentious moments between Trump and Judge Engoron. The former president has already been fined twice, and threatened with jail time, for violating a gag order put in place by Engoron after he attacked one of the judge’s clerks on social media. On Friday, Engoron expanded the order, which barred the former president from publicly commenting on members of the court’s staff, to include similar restrictions on the statements of Trump’s attorneys.
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