Trump Tangles with Judge at NY Business Fraud Trial, Complains of ‘Unfair’ Treatment 

UNITED STATES: In a civil fraud trial related to his New York business, Donald Trump complained of unfair treatment while delivering defiant, rambling testimony on the witness stand on Monday, triggering the judge at one point to threaten to shorten his testimony.

During the inquiry into his company’s financial practices, the ex-U.S. president visibly irritated Judge Arthur Engoron, who is deliberating on whether to levy substantial fines and other sanctions that could potentially cripple the real estate empire that propelled Trump to fame.

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Engoron cautioned Trump, who was leading in the race for the Republican nomination in the 2024 election, that he could be taken off the witness stand if he didn’t provide direct answers to the questions.

“Can you control your client?” Christopher Kise, Trump’s attorney, was questioned by Engoron. “This isn’t a political gathering. This room is used for court proceedings.”

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Trump’s testimony concluded in the midafternoon, and his daughter Ivanka is scheduled to testify on Wednesday, even though she is not a defendant in the case.

During approximately four hours of testimony, Trump frequently evaded providing direct answers and instead took the opportunity to boast about his properties and wealth.

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He alleged that New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat in office, was pursuing him for political gain and accused Engoron of undervaluing his real estate assets.

“I think this case is a disgrace. Many people are leaving New York because of exactly this kind of thing. It’s election interference because you want to keep me in the courthouse,” he said.

Engoron and Trump engaged in frequent raised voices as the judge attempted to deter Trump from using the courtroom as a platform for airing his complaints.

“I’m not here to hear what he has to say. I’m here to hear him answer questions. Sit down already,” Engoron said to another of Trump’s attorneys, Alina Habba.

Habba later informed the judge that they would seek a mistrial, although their chances of success appear slim.

Engoron has already determined that Trump, his adult sons, and ten of his businesses are guilty of fraud. He has provided a harsh account of how the defendants falsified appraisals. Trump may lose ownership of some of his most well-known assets as a result of Engoron’s decision, though the order is pending an appeal.

Fraud case

In the midst of fireworks, Trump admitted his involvement in some of the documents at the focus of the fraud case,  wherein state attorneys from New York claim his business artificially inflated the worth of golf courses, apartment buildings, and other properties in order to secure better financing terms.

Trump admitted that the approximations weren’t always precise. He claimed that certain assets, such as his Florida golf course and Mar-a-Lago estate, were undervalued and others, such as his Trump Tower apartment in New York and his house in Seven Springs, north of the city, were overpriced.

He stated that shouldn’t matter because his lender, Deutsche Bank, was more concerned with the quantity of cash he had on hand, and the projections included a disclaimer that they might not be correct. Trump remarked, “I’ve had a lot of cash for a long time.”

In their lawsuit, New York state lawyers allege that the estimates provided by Trump misled lenders and insurers, resulting in his gaining over $100 million and inflating his wealth by $2 billion.

Trump, in response, accused legal authorities of excessively scrutinising his business affairs after his victory in the 2016 presidential election.

“This is a very unfair trial, very, very unfair, and I hope the public is watching,” he said afterwards.

At one point, Judge Engoron requested that Trump’s attorney, Kise, take Trump to the rear of the courtroom to clarify the legal procedures.

“The former and again soon-to-be president of the United States understands the rules,” responded Kise.

In contrast to the four criminal cases looming over Trump, this civil trial doesn’t pose a prison threat.

In this lawsuit, James is seeking $250 million in fines, along with measures that would bar Trump, as well as his sons Eric and Donald Jr., from engaging in business activities in their home state.

Following Trump’s testimony, she declared that he would be held accountable for his “repeated and consistent fraud against the citizens of New York.”

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer, testified that Trump gave him instructions to falsify financial records in order to increase his wealth.

Additionally, evidence demonstrates that Mar-a-Lago’s valuation was influenced by Eric and Donald Jr., who managed the Trump Organisation during their father’s 2017–2021 White House tenure.

During their testimony last week, the sons of Trump claimed they were not aware of the specifics of the valuation paperwork and attributed any mistakes to the accountants.

Trump, on the other hand, tried to shift some responsibility onto accountants but also admitted his involvement in the valuation process. He said, “would maybe on occasion have some suggestions.”

When asked about who within the company was responsible for preventing fraud, the elder Trump replied, “Um, everybody.”

Judge Engoron has imposed a $15,000 fine on Trump for twice violating a restricted gag order that prohibits him from criticising court staff. On Friday, he expanded this order to include Trump’s legal team as well.

Trump’s busy legal schedule poses a threat to his ability to campaign extensively next year. However, public opinion polls indicate that he maintains a strong lead in the Republican primary race.

Also Read: New York Fraud Trial: Donald Trump Jr. is Set to Testify for Second Day

Originally posted 2023-11-07 09:01:00.