In a dramatic turn of events, former U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out against the judge presiding over a $250 million civil fraud trial that poses a threat to his family’s business empire.
Trump’s testimony on Monday marked one of his most impassioned displays of anger during the trial.
Standing at the witness stand, Trump openly criticized Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron, accusing him of bias and alleging that he was inclined against him. He also took jabs at the state attorney, Letitia James.
Trump went as far as labeling Letitia James’ civil trial as “election interference” while referencing urban crime concerns. He decried the trial, describing it as a “disgrace” and suggested that the trial was contributing to people leaving New York due to what he perceived as a hostile legal environment.
Throughout his testimony, Trump expressed frustration with the courtroom proceedings and the perceived bias against him. He emphasized his desire for a jury trial, pointing out that the lawsuit was brought under a statute that doesn’t allow for a jury, which he deemed an “unfair witch hunt.”
The lawsuit, brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, alleges that Trump, along with his two adult sons and his company, deliberately inflated the values of his assets to gain financial benefits, tax advantages, and more favorable loan and insurance terms. James is seeking to permanently prevent the Trumps from conducting business in New York, citing years of financial fraud.
Trump’s fiery outburst also included personal insults directed at Letitia James, whom he referred to as a “political hack.” He claimed that the trial was part of a conspiracy to undermine his potential 2024 presidential campaign, characterizing it as “election interference.”
Judge Engoron repeatedly advised Trump to respond directly to questions and refrain from giving lengthy speeches during his testimony. He also cautioned Trump’s legal team that his outbursts could weaken their case.
The trial has placed Trump in an unusual position as a witness, particularly given his current status as a front-runner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary. As the proceedings continue, the courtroom drama and the case’s outcome remain closely watched by the public.
“It’s a very sad situation for our country,” Trump remarked to reporters before entering the courtroom, asserting that the trial represented a conspiracy against his presidential aspirations.
Meanwhile, Letitia James emphasized the significance of the facts presented in the trial, stating, “And numbers, my friends, don’t lie.”
Trump, for his part, maintains that the financial statements in question were never intended to be definitive and argues that his true worth exceeds their contents.