Donald Trump was in a New York court yesterday to testify in a civil fraud case threatening to cripple his real estate empire, the first former president to take the stand as a defendant in more than a century.
The 77-year-old Republican arrived shortly before 10:00 am (1500 GMT) to testify in the Manhattan courtroom before Judge Arthur Engoron.
Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, denounced the case as “very unfair” as he arrived for his testimony, calling it “political lawfare” and “election interference.”
“It’s a very sad situation for our country,” he said. “It usually takes place in third world countries.”
Trump and his two eldest sons, Don Jr and Eric, and other Trump Organization executives are accused of exaggerating the value of its real estate assets by billions of dollars to obtain more favorable bank loans and insurance terms.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, speaking to reporters before Trump’s arrival, said the real estate tycoon “consistently misrepresented and inflated the value of his assets.”
“Before he takes the stand, I am certain that he will engage in name-calling and taunts and race-baiting and call this a witch hunt,” James said. “But at the end of the day, the only thing that matters are the facts and the numbers.
“And numbers, my friends, don’t lie.”
Trump has repeatedly attacked James, who is Black, and the judge overseeing the case calling him “unhinged” and a “Trump-hating radical left, Democrat operative.”
Engoron has responded by slapping Trump with two fines — one for USD 5,000, another for USD 10,000 — when he ruled the onetime reality television star had violated a partial gag order imposed after he bashed the judge’s clerk on social media.
Trump’s testimony follows that of his sons Don Jr and Eric, who took the stand last week and blamed accountants for the financial statements of the company.