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.

After being questioned by the New York attorney general’s office last month, Trump was expected to return to court on Monday to testify in an effort to bolster his defense against charges that he fraudulently inflated the value of his assets. 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.

“President Trump has already testified,” Trump attorney Chris Kiss said in a statement. “There’s really nothing to say to the judge who imposed the unconstitutional vandalism order, who thus far seems to have ignored the testimony of President Trump and the testimony of everyone involved in the complex financial transactions involved in the case.”

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 attorney general’s complaint is personal to Trump because it directly attacks his brand.

If he had testified, Trump would have acted under a strict order from Judge Arthur Engoron barring him from commenting on 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.

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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 Engron’s gag order, although it remains in effect. 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.

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.

New York Attorney General Letitia 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, the accounting expert Trump testified last week, resuming the final part of his testimony.

The Attorney General’s Office will have one day for rebuttals. 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 an expert accounting witness testified for the defense.

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Speaking outside the courtroom, Trump — the GOP front-runner in the 2024 presidential race — complained that he was in New York instead of campaigning in one of the early swing states, even though he voluntarily attended.

“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.

CNN’s Cara Scannell contributed to this report.

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