OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Former President Donald Trump testified on his behalf Monday and attempted to defend himself against allegations that he overvalued his assets in order to obtain more favorable loan deals with banks and financial institutions.
At times, the proceedings grew raucous, with Judge Arthur Engoron becoming visibly angry at Trump and his attorneys, Christopher Kise and Alina Habba, ordering the latter to “sit down” at one point.
“Under questioning about his company’s accounting practices, the former U.S. president clearly aggravated Judge Arthur Engoron, who is weighing whether to impose hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and other penalties that could hobble the real estate empire that vaulted Trump to prominence,” Reuters reported.
“I beseech you to control him if you can. If you can’t, I will. I will excuse him and draw every negative inference that I can,” Engoron told Kise. “This is not a political rally. This is a courtroom.”
After giving his testimony in hushed tones for the previous two hours, Trump also became obviously agitated and spoke out loud, accusing Engoron and New York Attorney General Letitia James of “trying to hurt” him.
The real estate tycoon called James a “political hack,” accusing her of using “this case to become governor” and having used it to gain her current post.
Then Trump went after Engoron, pointing at the jurist and proclaiming, “Everybody’s watching this case. He called me a fraud, and he didn’t know anything about me.”
“The fraud is on the court and not on me,” he continued to rant.
“When you rule Mar-A-Lago is worth $18 million, and she rules it’s worth $25 million, either people are very stupid, or there’s a fraud. The fraud is on behalf of the court.”
Trump’s testimony was completed by mid-afternoon, Reuters reported, adding that his daughter, Ivanka, is scheduled to testify on Wednesday, though she isn’t a defendant in the case. Her brothers, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, are, however, and they have already testified as well.
“I think this case is a disgrace. Many people are leaving New York because of exactly this kind of thing,” the former president said. “It’s election interference because you want to keep me in the courthouse.”
At one point during the proceedings, Habba rose to protest the prosecutor’s complaints, saying if he wanted better answers, he should ask better questions.
“I’m not here to hear what he has to say. I’m here to hear him answer questions. Sit down already,” Engoron told her.
Later, Trump told reporters outside the courtroom he thought his testimony “went very well” while also commenting on what he sees as the unfair nature of the case.
“This is a case that should have never been brought. It’s a case that should be dismissed immediately. The fraud was on behalf of the court. The court was the fraudster in this case. They made references to assets that were very valuable, and they said, uh, they had no idea,” he said.
“They had no idea what the numbers were when they said $18 million for Mar-A-Lago, which is 50 to 100 times that amount by any estimation. It’s a terrible thing that’s happened here. We’re taking days and days and weeks and weeks, and it goes on. And then you look at the outside world and what’s happening,” the former president added.
“But of course, they’re getting their wish because I don’t have to be here for the most part. But I certainly do have to be here because I want to be here because it’s a scam. And this is a case that should have never been brought, and it’s a case that now should be dismissed,” he said.
Later, Habba also ripped Engoron in remarks to reporters.
“I was told to sit down today. I was yelled at, and I’ve had a judge, who is unhinged, slamming a table. Let me be very clear: I don’t tolerate that in my life. I’m not going to tolerate it here,” she said.
Habba attacking the judge: But I was told to sit down today. I was yelled at and I’ve had a judge who is unhinged slamming a table. I don’t tolerate that in my life, I’m not going to tolerate it here pic.twitter.com/u6Sgd7dnqA
— Acyn (@Acyn) November 6, 2023