Donald Trump waits to take the witness stand at New York Supreme Court

Trump Took the Stand in His Civil Trial and It Went Exactly How You’d Expect

The big moment in Trump’s civil trial for fraud took place Monday in New York City as he took the witness stand for the first time. I did not think he would act like a normal, serious person and turns out, I was right. For a quick review, New York Attorney General Letitia James has brought a $250 million case against the former president for fraud, which could totally ruin his so-called empire. 

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The trial is not being televised but if you believe Trump’s account (I do not!), his testimony went well and he was able to show that this whole case is a “scam.” Talking to reporters inside the courthouse, he also labeled it a sad day for America, which I fundamentally disagree with. This idea that seeing a former president being held accountable for his many alleged crimes is “sad” is something I have never bought into. Justice is justice and he is getting just a small fraction of what he deserves.

So Trump said his testimony went well. AG James described things differently, saying “he rambled, he hurled insults.” So what actually happened? NBC News‘ thorough reporting (unsurprisingly) seems to back up James’ account:

Trump was sworn in shortly after the court was called into session, and he was soon ranting about the lawyer questioning him from James’ office.

“You and every other Democrat … coming after me from 15 different sides … all haters,” Trump complained to his questioner, Kevin Wallace. He later complained that “people don’t know how good a company I built because people like you are going around demeaning me.” He also blasted James as “a political hack” and said the case “is a disgrace.” Trump was largely calmer during his afternoon testimony, before erupting again about James, who was seated in the front row.

“There are murderers on the streets of New York, and the attorney general is sitting here all day long,” Trump snapped.

We knew this day was going to be wild from the start because Trump had already gone after Judge Engoron, AG James, and Engoron’s staff prior to his testimony, earning himself and his lawyers gag orders. In fact, his Truth Social account continued to take digs at them even while he was testifying. Narcissistic as he is, Trump even tried to go toe-to-toe with the judge from the stand. Trump at one point was giving unresponsive answers, which legally, is usually not allowed on cross-examination. Engoron admonished him and Trump replied by saying “The judge will rule against me because he will always rule against me.”

Engoron pleaded with him to simply answer the questions being asked. After more of Trump’s ramblings, the Judge had enough and spoke directly to Trump’s lawyers, exclaiming, “I beseech you to control him.” You have to be pretty desperate to use the word “beseech” but how could you blame Engoron? He also made sure to note to the lawyers that this is not one of their client’s political rallies. We have seen Trump try to turn every occasion into a rally, and he can’t be allowed to do that inside an actual court of law.

Trump finally lost it completely, accusing the judge of being unfair to him. “He called me a fraud and he didn’t know anything about me!” Trump yelled. Of course, Engoron does know some things about Trump—specifically the legal evidence laid out against him, which was enough for Engoron to rule in September that he had, in fact, committed fraud.

Throughout his testimony, Trump rested on the tactic of playing ignorant, as he said he barely pays attention to his annual statements of financial condition. These are so important because AG James used them to show that Trump inflated his worth by billions in order to get favorable rates on loans and insurance. He blamed his accountants, saying he just relied on the information given to him and claiming he was “not involved in any way.”

And yet those statements explicitly read: “Donald J. Trump is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of the financial statement in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.”

Trump’s desire to play ignorant was clearly at odds with his need to boost his own out-of-control ego. While denying he had any knowledge of these matters, he also claimed that his financial statements were actually conservative and that he is worth even more than they say. He weirdly and baselessly said that because of this, there is no case.

This guy just makes up stuff and repeats it enough times that he expects us all to accept it as truth. That does work on his base but I am hoping it won’t work in the courtroom.

(via NBC News, featured image: Jabin Botsford-Pool/Getty Images)

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