In a controversial and sometimes heated session, former US President Donald Trump testified in his fraud trial. The 77-year-old made it clear that he was not willing to take a back seat in court in New York and avoid sharp attacks on the judiciary. Judge Arthur Engoron repeatedly instructed Trump on Monday to refrain from lengthy “speeches” in his courtroom: “This is not a political rally, this is a courtroom.” Trump should answer the prosecutor’s questions directly. “I don’t want to hear everything this witness has to say,” said the judge.
But Trump was hardly impressed by Engoron’s growing anger and attacked the judge, the American judiciary, the Democratic Party and New York Attorney General Letitia James, who was also present. She is a Democrat party soldier who should be ashamed: “She is the fraudster.” James is just trying to interfere in the election campaign. Trump wants to be re-elected US President for the Republicans next year. At one point he said: “This is a very unfair process. I hope the public is watching.”
There is a risk of major business damage for Trump
In the civil case, prosecutors accuse Trump, his sons and employees of manipulating the value of the Trump Organization for years in order to obtain cheaper loans and insurance contracts. Judge Engoron had already confirmed this before the trial – the proceedings are now primarily about determining possible punishments and several other charges.
Trump is not threatened with a prison sentence or a direct impact on his bid for the presidency in the trial, but a conviction could cause him great business damage. Attorney General James wants to ensure that Trump has to pay 250 million US dollars (around 239 million euros) and is no longer allowed to do business in New York. It is unclear whether he would also have to give up properties such as his famous New York Trump Tower if he is convicted.
“Everyone got their money back in full”
Trump, wearing a dark suit and blue tie, repeatedly attacked Judge Engoron. He is just as biased as James. “You don’t know anything about me, but you believe that political charlatan over there,” he complained, pointing in the direction of the James present. Prosecutor Kevin Wallace asked Trump matter-of-factly: “Ready?” – “Done,” he replied.
As expected, Trump denied the allegations that he had manipulated the value of his properties and businesses. A number of his properties, including his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, were worth far more than publicly known and were underestimated by the court. In addition, there was no damage, the banks had received back the loans granted: “Everyone got their money back in full,” said Trump.
Several of Trump’s children had recently testified. Donald Jr. and Eric denied any allegations in court and said they had nothing to do with the Trump Organization’s accounting and billing.
“You should be ashamed”
In some parts of his testimony, Donald Trump behaved in the courtroom like he was at a TV debate. Engoron repeatedly warned Trump’s defense attorney Christopher Kise that he should bring his mandate “under control.” Otherwise this would have a negative impact on his evaluation of the statement. When Trump’s defenders objected, Engoron ordered them to sit down.
Prosecutor Wallace remarkably often let the ex-president do what he did, even though Trump repeatedly reprimanded him as if he were his superior. The prosecution, Trump said during questioning, had nothing against him: “You should be ashamed, but go ahead.” At one point, Trump asked the judge if he could read a text that was apparently intended to exonerate him. When Engoron denied this with the words “not now,” Trump responded sarcastically with the words “I’m shocked.”
Trump remains a promising candidate for the US election
Because of numerous verbal gaffes by Trump, who was personally present at the trial several times, Judge Engoron had previously threatened him with serious consequences, imposed minor fines and a ban on defamation of court employees.
Trump is the most promising candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in a year’s election. According to many observers, he is using the trial as election advertising and repeatedly claims that the trial is part of a political campaign against him. During Monday’s statement, Trump’s anger that his wealth was being underestimated was repeatedly expressed. He says: “People don’t know what a good company I’ve built.”