Trump Explains Why He Didn’t Testify in New York Trial

Trump Explains Why He Didn’t Testify in New York Trial
Former U.S. President Donald Trump with attorney Todd Blanche speaks to the media during his New York trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on May 21, 2024. (Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday cited unfavorable rulings and the prosecution’s lack of a case as the reasons he declined to testify in his New York criminal trial.

After indicating for weeks that he was willing to take the stand, President Trump explained his decision during an interview with WABC Radio in New York. He attributed it partly to New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan’s rulings throughout the trial, which he framed as unfavorable to his defense team.

“Because he made rulings that makes it very difficult to testify,” President Trump said in answer to a question. “Anything I did, anything I did in the past, they could bring everything up, and you know what? I’ve had a great past—but anything!”

Justice Merchan allowed prosecutors to ask questions about other cases involving President Trump, including a civil case involving writer E. Jean Carroll.

He also allowed controversial testimony by key witness Stephanie Clifford, also known as adult entertainment performer Stormy Daniels, who provided salacious details about an alleged sexual encounter with the former president that prompted defense lawyers to seek a mistrial. The judge denied the mistrial motion but agreed that “it would have been better if some of these things had been left unsaid.”

The judge also permitted the introduction of a claim by former model Karen McDougal, who is alleged to have been paid to keep quiet about an affair with President Trump roughly a decade before he was elected president. President Trump has denied the claim.

President Trump earlier in the month accused Justice Merchan of “doing everything in his power to make this trial as salacious as possible, even though these things have NOTHING to do with this FAKE case.”

The former president has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records. Prosecutors argue that the falsification was done to conceal another crime, which upgrades the misdemeanors to felonies. His criminal trial is the first ever against a former U.S. president.

Prosecutors claim that the payments made under the non-disclosure agreement to Ms. Clifford were falsified and amounted to election interference during the 2016 campaign. President Trump’s lawyers argue that these were standard payments and that no illegal activity took place.

Prosecutors ‘Have No Case’

The other reason President Trump cited as contributing to his decision not to testify was that the prosecution “have no case.”

“New York is out of control … I’m not getting a fair shake legally, that I can tell you,” he said.

He criticized his New York-based court cases as “rigged” and pointed to his legal team’s successfully overturning five decisions by Judge Arthur Engoron in a separate civil case as evidence.

“In other words … why testify when they have no case? They finished. They have no crime. There is no crime … So when you say, ‘Why not testify?’ They have no case other than it’s a corrupt system,” President Trump added.

The prosecution rested its case on Monday, followed by the defense on Tuesday, bringing the trial to its final phase.

After Tuesday’s testimony concluded, both sides debated the definitions of “unlawful” and “criminal” actions in relation to the second alleged felony crime not specified in the original indictment.

The prosecution argued that “unlawful” actions do not need to be “criminal” to prove a conspiracy and that proof of intent was not required. They argued that an election law violation occurs when two or more people conspire to promote someone’s election to office “by unlawful means.”

“Unlawful means doesn’t mean criminal, it means a violation of law,” prosecutor Matthew Colangelo said.

Conversely, President Trump’s lawyers argued that the prosecution needed to prove a clear “intent to defraud” or commit a criminal conspiracy, arguing that none of his actions violated the law.

Justice Merchan reserved rulings for many of the issues raised. These rulings will determine whether the case reaches the jury and shape how jurors interpret it if it does.

It is expected that the jury will commence their deliberations on the case next week.

Catherine Yang and Michael Washburn contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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