UPDATED, 12:30 PM: Donald Trump wrapped up his testimony in his New York civil fraud trial after a contentious day that, absent camera coverage, played into his campaign message that he’s the one under attack.
“In one respect, Trump’s strategy is successful,” Neal Katyal, the legal commentator and former acting solicitor general, wrote on X/Twitter. “Everyone is talking about his temper tantrums, instead of talking about his commissions of fraud and that he is a cheat. He’s already lost the merits of the case, so this is his best play.”
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Trump has denied allegations that he fraudulently inflated the value of his assets for the purposes of securing more favorable loan terms.
But throughout the day, Trump went on several rants against the prosecution and the judge, calling the whole trial “fraudulent.”
In his afternoon testimony, Trump insisted that he was “worth billions of dollars more than the financial statements,” per the AP.
He also continued to dismiss the importance of his company financial statements, telling the court, “I would look at them, I would see them, and maybe on some occasions, I would have some suggestions,” per the AP. He also continued to point to a disclaimer on the statements, suggesting that it was up to financial institutions to do their own research. Trump also acknowledged participating in the valuation process.
During breaks in his testimony, Trump declined to talk to reporters, under advisement from his attorneys. He did address journalists afterward, again insisting that the trial was a “scam.”
Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case, told reporters that documentary evidence in the case proves that Trump “falsely inflated his assets to basically enrich himself and his family.”
“The numbers don’t lie. And Mr. Trump can obviously engage in all of these distractions, and that is what he did” on the stand, she said.
“I will not be bullied. I will not be harassed. This case will go on,” she said.
PREVIOUSLY, 10:35 AM: Donald Trump continued to attack the judge and prosecutors in his civil fraud trial, but the proceedings later in the morning did get into some of the nitty gritty details of his property valuations.
At one point, per CNN, Trump attacked Judge Arthur Engoron’s summary judgment ruling that concluded that the former president and his company had committed fraud by inflating the value of assets.
“He called me a fraud and he didn’t know anything about me,” Trump said, telling the judge that it was a “terrible thing you have done.” He called the judge’s decision “fraudulent.”
The judge let Trump go on, but when the former president argued that a disclaimer clause in his financial statements protected him from liability, the judge said that was not at issue. “Read my opinion again, or for the first time, perhaps,” the judge said, according to Politico.
Trump also attacked New York Attorney General Letitia James, who was seated in the courtroom, and said she didn’t “know what a 40 Wall Street is,” referring to the Trump property in lower Manhattan.
James later posted on X/Twitter, “Don’t tell, I can see it from my office window.”
In the face of questioning over claimed real estate valuations, Trump defended his company’s internal controls, while throwing in boasts about his properties, including his golf course in Scotland. But he suggested that his accounting firm, Mazars, should have alerted him to suspect valuations.
PREVIOUSLY: The judge in Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial repeatedly expressed his frustrations during the former president’s first hour of testimony, to the point of threatening to remove him from the stand.
During one moment, according to CNN and other outlets, Judge Arthur Engoron told Trump’s attorneys 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 said.
Trump had been asked to answer a question about the valuation of one of his properties, but he gave a defiant answer.
Throughout his testimony, Trump has groused about the unfairness of the proceedings, while his attorneys have repeatedly noted that he is running for president, further trying to tar the trial as politically biased.
Engoron, however, told the Trump attorneys, “This is not a political rally.” The judge also at one point ordered Trump’s attorneys to “sit down,” after which Trump said, “This is a very, very unfair trial, very. And I hope the public is watching it,” according to CNN.
But the public is not watching it, as cameras are not allowed into the proceedings.
That has left news networks to do their best to provide real time updates of the testimony. CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, reporting outside the courthouse, told viewers, “I think this has gone about as poorly as it could potentially go.”
CNN’s Paula Reid said, “This has been far more of a mess than I even had anticipated. The former president – clearly he does not want to answer these questions concisely as the judge directed him to do. The judge also made a choice to admonish Trump every single time he goes off script.”
Fox News has been covering Trump’s testimony, but not with the fervor of its rivals. During one segment, anchor Harris Faulkner turned to former prosecutor Andrew Cherkasky for analysis of the turbulent proceedings.
He offered a bit of a warning. “I think we have to appreciate the fact that this is not live streamed and we are really losing out on the nuance of what’s happening in the courtroom, as we hear about things this morning becoming heated, and the judge intervening and telling the defense counsel to get ahold of their client. We have to understand that as a nation we all have so much interest in what’s going on in the courtroom. But we’re only getting sound bites. We are only getting bits and pieces of Donald Trump as he’s trying to defend himself. He is also having to defend himself through headlines and speeches outside the courtroom, when what we really want to know are the answers to the questions and the way in which all of those answers are coming out.”
PREVIOUSLY: Donald Trump took the stand in his New York civil fraud trial, but reports out of the courthouse quickly detailed the former president’s attacks on prosecutors and the judge himself.
With cameras prohibited from covering the proceedings, news networks were left with a bit of a relay race. Reporters inside the courthouse gave a running account of Trump’s testimony to those outside, who then went live with the details, as anchors in studio turned to legal experts for analysis.
On CNN, correspondent Paula Reid, outside the Manhattan courthouse, reported at around 10:30 a.m. ET that “for the first time on the stand so far, Trump has really taken a shot at the judge, suggesting, ‘I’m sure the judge will rule against me, because the judge always rules against me.'”
Reid added, “My law license is pretty dusty, but that is not something that witnesses are advised to say on the stand, even if that’s the way you feel.”
Reid reported that the judge, Arthur Engoron, then asked Trump’s attorney if “that comment was necessary to answer the question that Trump had been asked.” The judge, according to Reid, then said, “Look, you can attack me. Do whatever you want. But answer the question.'” Engoron also said that Trump’s allegation — that he always rules against him — was “not true.”
Moments earlier on MSNBC, Vaughn Hillyard, also outside the courthouse, reported that the former president “went on the attack against the attorney general, the U.S. attorney’s office, to the point of taking us on a non-tangential argument that Donald Trump is making to the judge that he is being unfairly targeted in his lawsuit.” Engoron then said that Trump “needed to be more concise with his answers,” Hillyard reported.
Fox News didn’t exclusively concentrate on Trump’s testimony, but did feature a box in the corner of the screen noting it was happening, along with updates. Commentator Andy McCarthy attacked the civil trial as politically motivated and “so out of whack with the infraction.”
“They’re talking about a case where you have no victims of fraud, disgorging him of a quarter of a billion dollars or more of profits and putting him out of business, under circumstances where there is not a single person or a single entity that actually got defrauded here,” McCarthy said.
Engoron already has found Trump liable for defrauding banks, ruling that he and his companies overvalued assets and his net worth as he sought financing. The bench trial is to determine remaining claims brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James as well as damages.
The judge, however, has allowed only limited camera access to the courtroom, essentially short moments for pool photographers to capture the courtroom scene before the proceedings start.
That has left networks and other media outlets racing to provide real-time updates of the proceedings, with many reporters in an overflow courtroom where they can use their laptops and other personal electronic devices but not record what is happening. That looks to be the setup that the media will face next March, when Trump is scheduled to face criminal charges in Washington, D.C. on claims that he conspired to remain in power after the 2020 presidential election.
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