Trump Clashes With Judge in Defiant Testimony During New York Fraud Trial

Trump Clashes With Judge in Defiant Testimony During New York Fraud Trial
Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court in New York City on Nov. 6, 2023. (Curtis Means-Pool/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump took the witness stand on Monday to give his much-anticipated testimony as the key defendant in a civil fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Several times, he clashed with New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who accused him of campaigning in the courtroom.

The trial is a bench trial. Justice Engoron will be the sole decider of how much President Trump will need to pay in damages.

On Sept. 26, the judge ruled in a pre-trial summary judgment that President Trump was liable for fraud, siding with the attorney general’s office in saying that he had inflated his net worth by up to $2.2 billion annually in statements of financial condition (SFC) from 2011 to 2021.

President Trump has been attending the trial regularly since its start on Oct. 2, and even testified the past week very briefly during an impromptu hearing about the judge’s gag order. The judge had deemed President Trump “not credible” as a witness after putting him on the stand, and President Trump has claimed the judge “hates” him in social media posts.

On Nov. 6, the two had a head-on confrontation.

NTD Photo
Justice Arthur Engoron presides over the civil fraud trial of President Donald Trump at the New York State Supreme Court in New York on October 18, 2023. (Jeenah Moon-Pool/Getty Images)

State attorneys questioned President Trump about SFCs of various years and specific line items, sometimes eliciting long responses about specific properties, even to yes or no questions.

This irked the judge, who told defense attorney Chris Kise to “control your client” and get the campaign rhetoric out of the courtroom because this was “not a political rally.”

Mr. Kise responded that these were “extraordinary circumstances” and President Trump continued to testify on matters related to his net worth.

The judge then interrupted the testimony again and warned Mr. Kise to “control” his client in an exchange that turned into yelling between attorneys and the judge.

“If you can’t control him I will, and will draw every negative inference,” he said.

Mr. Kise said that would be unfair.

“You have on the stand a candidate for the president of the United States. I don’t think you should draw a negative inference. The court needs to hear what he has to say.”

Testimony continued with President Trump detailing a favorable lease he gave to Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue, which again irritated the judge, who pointed out that only a short answer was necessary.

“I am not here to hear what he has to say,” Justice Engoron said.

“This is a very unfair trial,” President Trump said. “And I hope the public is watching.”

‘Called Me a Fraud’

President Trump had not spoken to reporters during breaks on the day of his testimony, only for a brief appearance before the trial began. He repeated the claim that the case constituted election interference and a “political witch hunt,” disparaging the judge and attorney general.

Nearing the lunch break, the judge’s commentary had provoked President Trump, who, after answering questions about several other properties, made comments about the attorney general and the judge that he previously had kept outside the courtroom.

President Trump has often brought up the disclaimers printed at the beginning of the SFCs asking financial institutions to do their own analyses. He did so again in court.  The judge has repeatedly stated that this was not an applicable defense.

“It holds up in any courtroom except maybe this courtroom,” President Trump said.

After explaining the content of the disclaimers, he addressed the state attorney questioning him, saying “People like you go around and try to hurt me and demean me, maybe for political reasons.”

“Every legal scholar I’ve spoken to has said, ‘How could a thing like this be going on? It’s disgraceful,’” President Trump said, repeating his claim that the case was a “political witch hunt,” and adding that Ms. James “should be ashamed of herself.”

He also said—while sitting beside the judge—that the judge had ruled against him “before he knew anything about me … he called me a fraud and didn’t know anything about me.”

President Trump criticized both parties for valuing his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, at $18 million, saying “I could give you a part of the tennis court for that.”

Attorney: ‘I Was Yelled at’

During the lunch break, defense attorney Alina Habba echoed President Trump’s remarks, adding that the judge is biased and had prejudged her client even before they went to trial, referencing the Sept. 26 summary judgment.

She said the judge had been red-faced and enraged in the courtroom as he clashed with her.

“You have the right to hire a lawyer who can stand up and say something when they see something wrong,” she said. “But I was told to sit down today. I was yelled at, and I’ve had a judge who is unhinged slamming a table.”

She claimed the judge wanted to silence President Trump from explaining “what actually happened because it’s not good for his narrative.”

Hence, she said, he asked President Trump for short answers and cut him off.

From The Epoch Times

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