Trump says he won’t testify at his civil fraud trial Monday



CNN

Former President Donald Trump wrote on his social media site Sunday that he does not plan to testify at his civil fraud trial in New York on Monday.

Trump was expected to return to court on Monday to testify in an effort to bolster his defense against allegations that he falsified the value of his assets. He was interrogated The New York Attorney General’s Office last month. But the former president wrote in a lengthy message on Truth Social that he “will not be testifying on Monday” while continuing to attack the attorney general and the judge who oversees it.

Trump has already testified once at the hearing, but his appearance on Monday would have given him a chance to speak at length and attack the attorney general’s allegations against him while being questioned by his lawyers about his business and assets. While there are no criminal charges in the case, the Democratic attorney general’s complaint is personal to Trump — the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024 — and will directly attack his brand.

The last-minute reversal comes as the trial is expected to wrap up this week after 11 weeks of testimony. A decision is not expected until early next year.

A judge has already found that a decade of Trump’s financial statements were fraudulent. He will decide how much money Trump will pay and whether he and his two adult sons can do business in the state.

Trump’s appearance last month turned the witness stand into a campaign stop, asking the judge to answer questions and stay out of courtroom politics. However, Trump testified that he had some involvement in the financial statements and that the banks relied on them, but he relied on his accountants.

“President Trump has already testified,” Trump attorney Chris Kiss said in a statement Sunday, explaining Trump’s decision not to appear Monday. He said the former president’s testimony and the testimony of other witnesses made their case and that there was “no good reason” for Trump to return to the witness stand.

“Donald Trump has already testified in our financial fraud case against him,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement Sunday. “Whether Trump testifies again tomorrow or not, we have already proven that he has unjustly enriched himself and his family through years of financial fraud. No matter how much he tries to deflect from reality Facts don’t lie.”

Had he testified on Monday, Trump would have been running under one Cock order Judge Arthur Engoron prohibited comment about the judge’s staff. A gag order was placed on Ngoron Trump twice after the former president attacked a judge’s clerk on his social media.

However, the gag order was not relevant to Trump’s testimony, which focused on his company and the case. It simply barred him from discussing the judge’s clerk, whom Trump and his lawyer accused of bias against the former president.

Trump lawyer Alina Huba said Thursday that she recommended Trump not testify because of the gag order.

“My advice is that at this stage, he still wants to take the stand. But he is strongly opposed to what is happening in this court,” he said.

Trump’s lawyers have appealed Engoron’s gag order, though. Last week, Trump’s attorneys asked the judge to delay his testimony in the defense case pending a decision by an appeals court, which the judge refused.

“The judge who imposed the unconstitutional vandalism order appears to have so far ignored the testimony of President Trump and the testimony of everyone involved in the complex financial transactions involved in the case,” Kiss said in his statement. Report.

When Trump was questioned by the New York attorney general’s office last month, his protest testimony drew rebukes from Engoron for ignoring questions and instead attacking the attorney general, the judge and the case itself.

James is seeking $250 million in damages and an injunction barring Trump from doing business in the state. The attorney general’s complaint alleges that Trump, his adult sons and his company fraudulently inflated the values ​​of his properties in order to obtain more favorable loan and insurance rates.

Following Trump’s surprise announcement on Sunday, a clerk of court told CNN that the court would be dark on Monday. Tuesday’s proceedings will continue as scheduled, with Eli Bartow, an accounting expert Trump testified last week, facing cross-examination from the attorney general’s office.

The attorney general’s office will call rebuttal witnesses, who are expected to include another expert and a former employee of Trump International Realty. After that, each side has until January 5 to file briefs with Engoron. Closing arguments will be held on January 11.

Trump has attended the hearing several times, including Thursday, when Bartow testified for the defense.

Speaking outside the courtroom last week, Trump complained that even though he volunteered to attend, he was in New York instead of campaigning in one of the early swing states.

“I should be in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina right now. I shouldn’t be sitting in a courtroom,” Trump said.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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