While he was scheduled to testify Monday in his own defense in the civil trial for financial fraud, Donald Trump changed his mind and announced Sunday that he would not take the stand because he had “no more to say.”
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The 77-year-old former president posted a surprise message on the Truth social network, saying he “already testified to everything” in the ongoing trial against him, his eldest sons Donald Jr. and Eric, and other Trump Organization executives.
The latter is accused of inflating the value of skyscrapers, luxury hotels or golf courses in the heart of his empire during the first decade of the twenty-first century, to obtain better loans from banks and better insurance terms.
Since the trial began on October 2, the billionaire Republican has objected to justice every time he comes to court, denouncing a “witch hunt” or “a trial worthy of a banana republic.” After the attacks on his clerk, a judge banned Donald Trump from speaking about his team and imposed two fines totaling $15,000 on him for violating the order.
Unlike the criminal trials that await him in 2024, including one related to his alleged maneuvers aimed at reversing the outcome of the November 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump is not risking prison time in this civil case.
But he’s playing great and things are off to a bad start.
Even before the proceedings began, Judge Arthur Engoron estimated at the end of September that the prosecution had presented “conclusive evidence that between 2014 and 2021, the defendants overstated the assets” of the group by “812 million (to) $2.2 billion.” dollars” by year, in the numbers recorded in Donald Trump’s annual financial statements.
As a result of “repeated fraud,” he ordered the liquidation of companies that managed such assets, such as the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York or the skyscraper scheduled to be built a century ago at 40 Wall Street. The measures are suspended on appeal.
The trial concerns several other crimes, such as insurance fraud, and financial penalties requested by the New York State Attorney General’s Office, which is seeking $250 million.
Donald Trump’s lawyers denounce the empty file.
They assert that real estate valuations are necessarily subjective and that the banks, which were duly compensated, carried out sound financial operations. In recent weeks, witnesses called by the defence, including a current and former executive at Deutsche Bank, one of the lenders, have gone in this direction.
But according to another investment banker, the head of MM Dillon & Co., Michel McCarty, the banks might have decided to set higher interest rates if they had at their disposal a less rosy picture of Donald Trump’s financial situation. He estimated interest losses at $168 million from 2014 to 2023, a calculation questioned by the defense.