Trump Was as Courteous, Professional, and Respectful as We All Expected at His Fraud Trial

During his $250 million fraud trial on Monday, Trump repeatedly insulted the judge, called the trial “a political witch hunt," and kept rambling on about fraud.

Trump Was as Courteous, Professional, and Respectful as We All Expected at His Fraud Trial
Photo:David Dee Delgado (Getty Images)

On Monday, former President Donald Trump took the witness stand in New York City Civil Court to testify in the civil fraud case brought against him by New York Attorney General Letitia James—and his testimony was a shining beacon of courtesy and professionalism. JK! Trump predictably used his time on the stand to campaign for president and spew out all the hits, including railing against the political establishment’s supposed, years-long “witch hunt” against him.

James is suing Trump for $250 million and trying to bar the former president from conducting business in New York state again. Specifically, her office determined that Trump and his Large Adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, have spent years committing business fraud by both inflating and deflating the value of their company’s assets at different points. Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that Trump and his co-defendants are liable for fraud, and the trial that’s underway will determine the damages owed.

At varying points in Monday’s hearing, Trump’s behavior and commentary—including firing off insults at Engoron while sitting right next to him, as well as James, who was sitting in the room—resulted in heated clashes as the attorney for James’ office, Kevin Wallace, questioned Trump. A small credit I can give Trump: At least he talks his shit right to people’s faces. Although, this is a non-jury trial, so talking shit to the judge who will make the final decision in your fraud case is probably not the smartest strategy.

“This is not a political rally,” Engoron said to Trump at one point before telling Trump’s attorney, Chris Kise, to “control your client.” Kise responded that Trump’s answers on the stand were “brilliant,” and said, “The court needs to hear what he has to say… He’s describing to you about why there was no intent to mislead anyone with his answers. That’s what he’s doing.” Engoron, by contrast, said point-blank that he was “not here to hear what [Trump] has to say”: “We are here to hear him answer questions, and most of the time he’s not.”

Trump, for his own part, spent the morning repeating some version of, ”This is a very unfair trial. Very, very, and I hope the public is watching,” on a loop until the court took a break. It was after the break that Engoron, seemingly worn down and depleted like a parent dealing with their child’s hours-long tantrum, threw the towel in, telling Wallace, “If you want to let the witness ramble on, nonresponsive, repeat himself.”

And ramble on, Trump did: “The fraud is on the court, not on me,” he said, calling the trial “a political witch hunt” and stating that James “should be ashamed of herself.” Addressing Engoron directly, he said, “It’s a terrible thing you’ve done. You believe this political hack back there [James] and that’s unfortunate.” After one prolonged monologue of testimony, Wallace asked Trump if he was “done,” to which Trump politely replied, “Done.”

In other words, Trump’s testimony was about as helpful to the trial and the state of humanity as any of us might’ve guessed it would be. Afterward, one of Trump’s attorneys did the right-wing media circuit and referred to James as “just not that bright,” while James, for her part, told reporters on Monday afternoon that she “will not be bullied,” “will not be harassed,” and “this case will go on.” I’m sure it will! Here’s hoping it benefits from some slightly more helpful witnesses in the days to come.

The civil fraud case against Trump is one of numerous legal snares the presumptive Republican nominee for president has found himself caught in over the last year, which has seen him face four bombshell federal indictments that call into question whether he even qualifies to run for president at all. So, it should tell you something about the state of the Democratic Party that this man is presently polling ahead of President Biden in key swing states.

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