Donald Trump is testifying today in the fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The presiding judge has already held Trump liable. Trump’s testimony is going about as you would expect:
Donald Trump’s courtroom decorum has began to break down as the former president began yelling and attacking the judge and the attorney general from the witness stand.
Trump had been testifying for the past roughly two hours in hushed tones until he became visibly agitated, speaking loudly saying that the Justice Arthur Engoron and New York Attorney General Letitia James were “trying to hurt” him.
The real estate tycoon called James a “political hack,” accusing her of using “this case to become governor” and successfully using it for her current post.
That is all true. James ran for office on a platform of “getting” Donald Trump.
Trump’s personal attorney, Alina Habba, ranted against the judge overseeing the case while speaking to TV cameras outside court during the lunch break.
“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 also brought up Trump’s polling numbers in the 2024 presidential race, and claimed the country was “falling apart.”
Earlier, Habba stood up and interrupted the proceedings, telling Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron he was there to listen to what Trump had to say and arguing her client should be allowed to give long answers.
“I am not here to listen to what he has to say!” the judge said as he told Habba to “sit down.”
I think I understand what the judge meant, but the way it came out was unfortunate.
Judge Arthur Engoron threatened to throw Donald Trump off the witness stand if he doesn’t stop making speeches from it.
“Mr. Kise, that was a simple yes-or-no question,” Engoron said of Trump being asked about the accuracy of his 2014 financial statement.
“We got another speech,” the judge said. “I beseech you to control him if you can. If you can’t, I will. I will excuse him and use every negative inference that I can.”
Trump lawyer Alina Habba argued that her client should be able to give long answers like Michael Cohen did on the stand two weeks ago. Habba also said AG lawyer Kevin Wallace should ask “better questions.”
But Engoron bellowed at Habba to “sit down.”
Trump then interjected: “This is a very unfair trial, very unfair. And I hope the public is watching.”
So Trump is giving speeches and, as the judge said, trying to turn his appearance into a political rally. What did he think was going to happen? Is there any conceivable reason why Judge Engeron, or the Attorney General, should have expected anything different?
The problem that Engeron and Letitia James have is that this is transparently a political prosecution. There must have been hundreds of thousands of occasions, during the time period covered by this case, when business people gave banks statements of their financial condition. Based on my experience, I think there were many, many instances where borrowers overstated their net worth. How many of those instances have been prosecuted by the Attorney General, other than Donald Trump? None, is my guess.
Because everyone knows this is a political prosecution by representatives of the Democratic Party, Judge Engeron and Attorney General James have no moral high ground to stand on. They wanted to see Donald Trump on the witness stand, and that is what they are getting.
UPDATE: Trump lawyer Alina Habba address the press during the lunch break. It is pure theater, of course, but Trump and Habba aren’t the ones who asked for this. They are giving Engeron and James what they deserve:
FURTHER UPDATE: I am not sure this will work, but Trump has just addressed the press from outside the courtroom as the afternoon session was about to begin. He pulled no punches: