Former President Donald Trump took the stand Monday in a New York Superior Court trial, angrily lashing out at the judge and the prosecutor amid fraud allegations that could destroy his business empire.
The court proceeding, adjudicated by Judge Arthur F. Engoron instead of a jury, has already found that the Trump organization filed fraudulent financial statements—massively overvaluing his real estate holdings to get more favorable loan terms.
The Trump company could face a $250 million penalty in the case, brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
In testimony, Trump attempted to distance himself from from his company’s allegedly fraudulent 2021 financial statements — saying he was busy keeping the country safe from China and Russia during his presidency when the statements were filed.
Senior Enforcement Counsel Kevin Wallace of the New York attorney general’s office reminded him, however, that he was not president in 2021. From there, Trump became more combative.
When asked about the valuation of one of his properties, Trump responded that he would look at the his company’s financial statements and “maybe on occasion have some suggestions.”
“I would look at them, I would see them, and I would maybe on occasion have some suggestions,” Mr. Trump said shortly after he took the stand in a Manhattan courtroom. He also acknowledged lowering the value of one property — Seven Springs, a sprawling estate north of Manhattan — because he “thought it was too high.”
Trump seemed intent on answering questions from prosecutors and the judge, but it wasn’t long before the former president lost his patience.
Trump lashed out from the witness stand, calling the trial a “political witch hunt” directly calling Attorney General James a “political hack.”
“You believed this political hack back there and that’s unfortunate,” Trump says to the judge of James. “Done,” asks Kevin Wallace? “Done,” says the former president,.
It’s a political “witch hunt,” Trump told the court.
He said of Engoron: “He called me a fraud and he didn’t know anything about me.”
Trump then refused to answer Wallice’s questions and instead used his time to attack Engoron.
During the proceedings, former New Jersey Gov. Christie offered live commentary on CNN. The presidential candidate told the network that Trump is “playing to the grandstand.”
“He knows at his core he did exactly what they are accusing him of doing,” Christie said. “This is not the least bit surprising to me. He may never be able to do business again in the state where he was born.”
Christie added: “The walls are closing in.”
After finishing his testimony on Monday, Trump stopped to address reporters at the courthouse, where he called the proceedings a “scam.”
“This is a case that should have never been brought,” Trump said. “People are sick and tired about what’s happening. This is a sad day for America.”
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