Former President Donald Trump faced a combative exchange in a New York civil fraud trial as he took the witness stand, launching sharp criticism at Judge Arthur Engoron and denouncing the proceedings as a “political witch-hunt.”
On Monday, Judge Engoron reprimanded Trump for turning his statements into what he described as a “political rally,” a reaction to Trump’s appearance in a Manhattan courtroom following testimonies from his two sons the previous week.
With a sense of urgency, an exasperated Judge Engoron remarked, “We don’t have time to waste. We have one day to do this.” This exchange came after Trump had been placed under a limited gag order for making disparaging comments about court staff earlier.
Donald Trump is currently grappling with an array of legal challenges, including four criminal trials, some of which pertain to his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election results, in addition to the ongoing civil trial centered on his business practices.
Despite his legal troubles, Trump’s popularity among Republican voters remains largely intact, positioning him as the frontrunner for the 2024 presidential candidacy within the party.
New York state lawyers assert that Trump used deceptive tactics to artificially inflate his net worth, enabling him to gain access to favorable loans and business deals. In late September, Judge Engoron ruled that Trump had committed fraud for years by significantly overstating his wealth, with several other claims in the case still pending, along with potential penalties.
Trump, during his testimony on Monday, openly criticized the judge, stating, “He called me a fraud, and he did not know anything about me,” and expressing pessimism about the judge’s stance, saying, “I’m sure the judge will rule against me because he always rules against me.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case against Trump, his sons, and Trump Organization executives, seeks $250 million in fines and a ban on Trump and his sons from conducting business in New York state. Trump, in response, labeled James a “political hack” and has consistently targeted her through speeches and social media posts.
Prior to Trump’s testimony, James downplayed the attacks, emphasizing the importance of facts and numbers. She remarked, “At the end of the day, the only thing that matters are the facts and the numbers. And numbers, my friends, don’t lie.”
Judge Engoron had previously imposed a $15,000 fine on Trump for violating the gag order, which permitted him to criticize the trial but prohibited comments about court staff. In recent days, Trump has continued to criticize the judge, referring to him as a “wacko” and a “RADICAL LEFT, DEMOCRATIC OPERATIVE” in social media posts.