Donald Trump declines to testify again in $250million New York fraud trial
Former President Donald Trump's abrupt refusal to testify for a second time in his New York fraud trial sparks questions about his defense strategy.
Donald Trump abruptly announced on Sunday that he will not take the stand for a second time in his high-stakes fraud trial in New York, raising questions about his defense strategy and potentially impacting the final verdict.
The former president was expected to appear in court on Monday as the hearings neared their conclusion. However, in a dramatic reversal, he declared on his Truth Social platform that he would no longer testify, claiming the entire case amounted to a "witch hunt" aimed at interfering with future elections.
"I HAVE ALREADY TESTIFIED TO EVERYTHING & HAVE NOTHING MORE TO SAY OTHER THAN THAT THIS IS A COMPLETE & TOTAL ELECTION INTERFERENCE (BIDEN CAMPAIGN!) WITCH HUNT," Trump wrote, signing off with his signature slogan.
His decision comes after a somewhat contentious initial testimony on November 6th, where his responses often resembled a political rally rather than a direct attempt to persuade the judge of his innocence.
Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that the Trump Organization committed fraud and is currently determining the appropriate punishment.
The New York Attorney General, Letitia James, contends that Trump, his adult sons, and other company executives deliberately inflated the value of their assets to secure more favorable loan terms. Over the past few weeks, Trump's defense team has countered this argument, claiming that the former president had the right to value his properties as he saw fit and that lenders and accountants should have conducted their own due diligence.
The 77-year-old has consistently attacked James and Engoron on Truth Social, accusing them of massively undervaluing his assets. He specifically pointed to Mar-a-Lago, claiming it was worth "50 to 100 times" more than the $18 million valuation assigned by the prosecution.
During their respective testimonies, Trump and his children repeatedly expressed difficulty recalling specific details about the financial statements, despite documented evidence suggesting otherwise. Plus, Trump repeatedly invoked a "worthless clause" in his financial records, claiming lenders were aware they should conduct their own analysis. This argument was previously dismissed by Judge Engoron as "worthless," but Trump persisted in bringing it up.
With Trump already found guilty of fraud in a pre-trial ruling, the remaining portion of the trial focuses on whether Trump and his family knowingly misrepresented the value of their assets. A guilty verdict on this charge could lead to a significant fine, estimated to be at least $250 million. Additionally, if the pre-trial judgment is upheld by an appeals court, Trump and his children would be barred from conducting business in New York, effectively crippling his real estate empire within the state.