Former President Trump testified on the stand Monday that New York Judge Arthur Engoron and New York Attorney General Letitia James are "trying to hurt" him for "political reasons" while blasting the "very unfair" and unprecedented non-jury civil fraud trial.
The former president and 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner took the stand Monday morning in the civil trial stemming from James’ lawsuit against him, his family and his businesses. James alleged Trump defrauded banks and inflated the value of his assets.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly said his assets were actually undervalued. Trump has repeatedly said his financial statements had disclaimers, requesting that the numbers be evaluated by the banks.
During Trump’s unprecedented testimony Monday, Engoron tried to cut him off from providing lengthy answers to state lawyers’ questioning, and even said, "I don’t want to hear everything he has to say."
After a break in his testimony, Trump again took the stand, defending himself and his businesses, and blasting the investigation, lawsuit and non-jury trial.
"We shouldn’t be having a case here because we have a disclaimer clause that every court holds up except this judge," Trump said, referring to the disclaimers on all of his financial statements and statements of financial condition.
"They're trying to hurt me — especially her," Trump said, referring to Attorney General Letitia James. "For political reasons."
Trump went on to call James a "political hack," saying she used her investigation and lawsuit against him "to become governor, to become attorney general." The former president was referring to James’ campaigns, in which she vowed to "get Trump."
"This is a political witch hunt, and she should be ashamed of herself," Trump said. "The fraud is her."
James, a Democrat, sued Trump, his children and the Trump Organization last year, alleging he and his company misled banks and others about the value of his assets. James claimed the former president’s children — Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka and Eric — as well as his associates and businesses, committed "numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation" on their financial statements.
Engoron, in September, ruled that Trump and the Trump Organization committed fraud while building his real estate empire by deceiving banks, insurers and others by overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing.
"He ruled against me without knowing anything about me," Trump said on the stand. "He called me a fraud, and he didn’t know anything about me."
Trump went on to slam Engoron for undercutting the value of his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, a property Engoron valued at $18 million.
"$18 million, he said — and I'm a fraud for not valuing the property? How do you call a man a fraud when you have a property 50 to 100 times more?" Trump said. "You believed the political hack back there, and that's unfortunate."
A state attorney, Kevin Wallace, who was leading the questioning of Trump, asked if the former president was "done."
"Done," Trump said.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.