Former President Donald Trump took the witness stand on Monday to defend himself and his company in the civil fraud trial brought against him by New York Attorney General Letitia James. During his predictably contentious testimony, the former president traded jabs with both prosecutors and Judge Arthur Engoron, ratcheting up tensions in the courtroom.
Cameras and recording equipment were not allowed inside the court during the proceedings, but second-hand accounts of his time on the stand indicate that it was anything but a simple process. Shortly after Trump was sworn in, Judge Engoron sharply instructed the Trump defense team to control their client’s behavior and limit his answers to responding to questions. “Some of your answers have not been in response to the question,” the judge said. “[Prosecutor Kevin Wallace] is being very patient. I would like to move this along. Please just answer the questions — no speeches.”
Trump also accused Engoron, who is overseeing the case without a jury, of treating him unfairly. “I’m sure the judge will rule against me because he always rules against me,” the former president complained.
“The comment that I always rule against him, which as you know is not true anyway, certainly didn’t answer the question,” Engoron said to defense attorney Chris Kise.
“So, Mr. Trump, please just answer the question,” Engoron continued, addressing the former president. “You can attack me, you can do whatever you want, but answer the question.”
Other moments included Trump calling Engoron a “political hack,” defending his personal net worth, and denouncing the entire process as a political attack against his 2024 campaign.
“This is not a political rally,” Engoron said during one of these exchanges. “I don’t need editorializing. We’ll be here forever.”
As Valuetainment previously reported, Attorney General James’ civil case against the Trump Organization alleges that Trump spent decades misrepresenting the value of his various properties and the size of his net worth. These allegedly fraudulent assessments allowed him to secure more favorable loans from banks while he built his real estate empire.
The continuing trial focuses on claims of conspiracy, insurance fraud, and falsifying business records following Engoron’s previous ruling to dissolve several New York-based Trump Organization LLCs.
Trump’s testimony followed shortly after his two eldest sons, Eric and Don Jr., took the stand last week. His daughter Ivanka is scheduled to testify on Wednesday.