During Monday’s court session, former President Donald Trump provided testimony in the ongoing civil investigation led by the New York Attorney General, Letitia James. The inquiry pertains to the financial practices of the Trump Organization, specifically the valuation of its properties.
While initially the courtroom exchange maintained a level of decorum, Trump’s disposition shifted as he directed criticism towards Judge Arthur Engoron and Attorney General James, labeling her “a political hack.” Trump’s response came after state attorney Kevin Wallace inquired about Trump’s stance on the attorney general’s property valuation, to which Trump retorted, suggesting the fraud was directed at the court rather than himself.
Trump also challenged Judge Engoron’s earlier rulings, claiming bias without prior knowledge of his dealings. The attorney general was accused by Trump of conducting a “political witch hunt.”
Judge Engoron allowed Trump leeway to express himself in his characteristic confrontational style. However, when Trump attempted to discuss a disclaimer clause he believed exonerated him, Engoron dismissed the relevance, refusing to entertain the discussion in court.
Before the midday recess, Trump distanced himself from the preparation of the financial statements under scrutiny. He stated that he merely authorized subordinates to supply necessary information to a reputable accounting firm.
Addressing the Mar-a-Lago valuation, Trump maintained that despite a deed restriction, the potential exists to revert the property’s use, justifying his assessment. Trump reinforced the significance of a disclaimer in his financial statements, underscoring that it advised lenders to perform independent due diligence.
The afternoon session saw a return to a more focused and succinct dialogue, with Trump recalling specifics of transactions and engaging in a detailed review of loan documents for his properties.
Trump’s legal representative, Alina Habba, criticized the handling of the case and the judge’s approach during the lunch recess, indicating a potential motion for a mistrial due to alleged bias from the judge’s clerk, an action which Judge Engoron initially discouraged but later softened his stance on.
After five hours of testimony, Trump concluded his direct examination, which included comments on his former CFO Allen Weisselberg’s tax fraud conviction. Trump expressed sympathy for Weisselberg, claiming ignorance of his illegal activities until investigations brought them to light.
The defense team, represented by Chris Kise, anticipates concluding their case by December 15th. With the session adjourned until Wednesday, when Ivanka Trump is due to testify, Attorney General James remained steadfast outside the courtroom, stating Trump’s testimony, characterized by insults and digressions, didn’t alter the substantive documentary evidence against him.
James reiterated her commitment to the lawsuit amidst Trump’s adversarial testimony, asserting that her pursuit of the case would continue undeterred by intimidation attempts.