Former President Donald Trump took the witness stand in a New York courtroom on Monday, testifying in a $250 million civil fraud case that could lead to the collapse of his vast business empire.
Trump took the oath of office shortly after the court was called into session and spoke quickly about his questioning by a lawyer from State Attorney General Letitia James’ office.
“You and every other Democrat … coming after me from 15 different sides … all haters,” Trump said.
Trump has testified before state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoren — who he has repeatedly mocked on his social media site, Truth Social. In recent days, Engoron has posted that he is “crazy, completely out of control and dangerous” and a “judge that Trump hates” and is a “disgrace to the legal profession.” In one post, Engoron “should be thrown off the ‘bench’ as a colossal embarrassment to New York State!”
There is no jury, so Engoran will ultimately decide the outcome of the investigation, including whether Trump, his sons and his company should pay any fines.
The courtroom was at full capacity ahead of the trial, with more photographers in the hallway than at the beginning of the trial. Some of the judge’s friends and his clerks sat in the front row of the courtroom and were excited to witness history.
Trump’s previous sworn testimony on the case was already problematic for him.
He was first impeached while trying the James case in August 2022 and invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination nearly 450 times.
He was fired again in April after James filed his bombshell lawsuit alleging that he and his company inflated their assets to the tune of billions of dollars to get more favorable rates from banks and insurers. He will be questioned on Monday.
Trump answered questions from the attorney general’s office about seven hours into the deposition and denied responsibility. Annual statements of financial positionIt says “Donald J. Trump is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States.”
The AG’s office says he strayed far from accepted accounting principles, but Trump testified that he trusted the accountants who compiled the reports and that he thought his assets were undervalued in many cases.
“We’re going to have numbers that will knock your socks off,” Trump told James’ office at the hearing.
“Your numbers are so wrong. They’re really low, your numbers,” he said.
Engoron cited some of Trump’s testimony in his summary judgment motion before an Oct. 2 trial to hold him liable for the fraud.
“The defense that Donald Trump is trying to put forth in his sworn statement is completely unfounded in law or in fact,” he said.
In a case that drew Trump’s ire, the judge took issue with Trump’s appraisal of his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, which the Palm Beach County assessor estimated at $18 million to $27.6 million in market value from 2011 to 2021. Trump’s balance sheet showed its value from $426 million to $612 million. Trump, who has repeatedly complained that Engron cited an $18 million valuation, said the property was worth more and could be considered even more valuable if it were sold as a private residence.
Trump also went off on rally-style tangents during his testimony. Speaking about offshore wind farms in Scotland, he said: “They are probably killing whales, which are coming ashore and which no one has ever seen before. Many whales are arriving in New England. No, I’m not a fan of wind.
Trump once took the stand very briefly in the fraud trial when he was in court for the testimony of his former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Engoron asked Trump if he was referring to the judge’s law clerk when he complained to reporters that he was “a very partisan sitting person.” Engoron banned Trump from speaking about his court staff after Trump slandered the clerk on social media.
Trump said he was talking about Cohen under oath, but Engoron found his answer “not credible” and fined him $10,000.
Trump last testified in depth during a 2013 civil trial in Chicago. Associated Press He described his testimony at the time as “sometimes prickly, sometimes proud.”
“I don’t want to be bragging: I build big buildings,” he said two days into the lawsuit, in which he is accused of defrauding an 87-year-old woman of condo bait. Switch at the Trump Building in Chicago. The jury found in his favor.
Trump is set to stand trial next year in four criminal cases: the federal classified documents case; Fulton County, Georgia, election interference case; Washington, D.C., election interference case; and the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into payments to Stormy Daniels.
At least one former president has testified in court after leaving office — Teddy Roosevelt did so twice.
The 26th president was the plaintiff in a civil suit against a Michigan newspaper He accused him of being a drunkard In 1913. The second was a civil suit in which Roosevelt was sued by A Chairman of the New York Republican Party He accused him of corruption. Roosevelt won both cases.