‘This is not a political rally’

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The judge presiding over Donald Trump’s civil fraud case has admonished him to keep his answers concise, reminding him and the courtroom that “this is not a political rally,” as the former president and leading Republican presidential candidate began testifying in a lawsuit in which he was accused. of dramatically inflating his assets.

“We have no time to lose. We have one day to do this,” an exasperated Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engeron said at one point. At another point he said, “Besides the answers being unresponsive, they are repetitive.”

Trump’s turn on the witness stand, in a case that goes to the heart of the business brand he has spent decades building, represents a remarkable confluence of his legal troubles and his political ventures at a time when he is also facing criminal charges while he is vying for the White House in 2024.

Former President Donald Trump zips his lip as he walks out of the courtroom during a break in proceedings at the New York Supreme Court, Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez) (AP)

The testimony gives him an opportunity to try to use the witness stand as a campaign platform, but the under-oath format, before a judge who has already fined him for inflammatory comments outside court, also clearly poses danger to a businessman and candidate who is famous. for a free-flowing rhetorical style.

The tensions between Engeron and Trump, which were already on display last month when the judge fined him $10,000 for incendiary remarks outside court, became clear on Monday when the ex-president was repeatedly berated about the length and content of his answers.

“Mr. Kise, can you keep your client under control? This is not a political meeting. This is a courtroom,” Engeron told Trump attorney Christopher Kise, who himself has clashed with the judge.

The judge later added: “I don’t want to hear everything this witness has to say. He has a lot to say that has nothing to do with the case or the questions.”

Flanked by his attorneys Chris Kise (left) and Alina Habba, former President Donald Trump waits to take the witness stand at the New York Supreme Court on Monday, November 6, 2023 in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez) (AP)

Trump walked slowly to the witness stand and tugged on his coat as he asked hours of questions in a lawsuit by New York’s attorney general, who accuses him and his company of inflating the value of his properties and ripping off banks and insurers. deceive in their pursuit. of business deals and loans.

Echoing the position taken by two of his sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric, in their own testimony last month, Trump sought to downplay his direct involvement in the preparation and review of the financial statements, which the attorney general said were grossly were inflated and fraudulent.

“All I did was authorize people and tell them to give whatever was necessary so that the accountants could make the statements,” he said. As for the results, “I would look at them, I would see them, and maybe on some occasions I would have some suggestions.”

He also downplayed the significance of the statements, which went to banks and others to secure financing and deals. As he has done in the lead-up to his testimony, Trump downplayed the significance of the statements, pointing to a disclaimer that he said amounted to requiring recipients to make their own calculation.

Former President Donald Trump waits to take the witness stand at the New York Supreme Court on Monday, November 6, 2023 in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez) (AP)

“Banks didn’t think they were very relevant, and they had a disclaimer clause – you could call it a worthless disclaimer clause,” he said, emphasizing that, after decades in the real estate industry, “I probably know banks as well as anyone … I They know what they’re looking at, they’re looking at the deal, they’re looking at the location.

Trump complained in court that his 2014 annual accounts should not be the subject of the lawsuit at all.

“First of all, it’s been so long, it’s way past the statute of limitations,” Trump said before turning on the judge and saying he was allowing state attorneys to file claims related to such years-old documents “because he always rules against me. ”

Engoron said, “You can attack me in any way you want, but please answer the questions.”

The courtroom at 60 Center Street has already become a well-known destination for Trump. He has voluntarily sat at the defense table for hours over the past month and watched the events unfold. Trump once – unexpectedly and briefly – took the stand after being accused of violating a partial gag order. Trump denied breaking the rules, but Judge Engoron disagreed and fined him anyway.

Before Monday, Trump’s speech took place outside the courtroom, where he took full advantage of the assembled media to express his outrage and conduct the day’s proceedings in the most favorable manner.

“We have no time to lose. We have one day to do this,” an exasperated Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engeron said at one point. (AP)

Unlike most Americans, Trump has extensive experience answering questions from lawyers and has a long history of statements and courtroom testimony that offer insight into how he might respond. But Cohen, who worked for Trump for more than a decade, said nothing in Trump’s past came close to what he is dealing with now, as they were largely civil cases “where the dollar amounts were admittedly the millions of dollars ran, but were never of great value. any real consequence for him or, of course, for his freedom.”

“Right now, this case by the New York attorney general threatens the extinction of his namesake company and his financial future,” he said. Trump’s upcoming criminal cases — accusing him of misclassifying hush money payments, illegally trying to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election and hoarding documents at his club at Mar-a-Lago ‘have far greater ramifications, especially the termination of his freedom.’

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