Donald Trump sits in court looking sad

Donald Trump’s Excuse for Refusing To Testify Today Is Less Than Convincing

Donald Trump was slated to testify in his New York civil fraud trial today but on Sunday night, he announced via a rambling, all-caps Truth Social rant that he would not be taking the stand.

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As a reminder, this current trial is over a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James regarding the inflation of Trump’s wealth and property valuations. This case is not meant to determine whether or not those numbers were inflated, as that has already been decided. In September of this year, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that Trump had inflated his net worth by as much as $2.2 billion. He said the valuations Trump had on the books were from a “fantasy world.”

The current case does not involve debating the reality of that fantasy, this is simply to determine the penalties and punishment. But Trump’s social media rant was focused entirely on disputing that earlier ruling and the merits of the case itself.

Trump claimed without evidence that Judge Engoron undervalued his assets by “50 TO 100 TIMES […] IN ORDER TO ILLEGALLY REDUCE MY VALUES & MAKE A FAKE CASE AGAINST ME.” He said the case against him was a “WITCH HUNT” and “COMPLETE & TOTAL ELECTION INTERFERENCE (BIDEN CAMPAIGN!).”

Because of that, he said he would not be testifying Monday. Actually, to get the full effect, what he wrote was, “I WILL NOT BE TESTIFYING ON MONDAY. MAGA!,” adding in another message that he has “ALREADY TESTIFIED TO EVERYTHING & HAVE NOTHING MORE TO SAY.”

Indeed, Trump did already testify in November, and he went so far off the rails that Engoron had to plead with his lawyers, “I beseech you to control him.”

If Trump did testify today, it would have been his own lawyers leading the questioning so things would have been much friendlier. However, there is a gag order in place so Trump (theoretically, not that it’s stopped him before) would have had to limit his aggressive outbursts.

Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba told reporters last week that she’d advised her client not to testify because of the gag order (seems like privileged information but OK) but that he was going to anyway because “he is so firmly against what is happening in this court.”

Clearly, he changed his mind and is trying to convince his followers that he’s taking some sort of moral stand by refusing to testify. More likely, he realized he wouldn’t be able to defend himself without aggressively attacking law clerks and potentially (we can dream) finally earning himself some real consequences. I guess the trade-off just wasn’t worth it.

(featured image: Jabin Botsford-Pool/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.