Today is the big day. Donald Trump will testify in the civil fraud trial in which New York’s attorney general Letitia James is seeking a $250 million fine and a ban on Donald Trump doing business in the state. What should we expect? Whopping lies? Silence? Dark humor? Probably all of the above.
The judge has already ruled that the former president, along with his two oldest sons and other Trump Organization executives, committed fraud. These proceedings will only determine potential penalties.
His sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, took the stand late last week and essentially claimed to be totally ignorant– not only of what was transpiring in their own company, but also of any principles they may have learned in their Accounting 101 courses in Business School. This despite endlessly boasting about their business prowess and the ability to run successful companies. Suddenly, on the stand, they claim to have delegated crucial decisions to their accounting team. They washed their hands of any responsibility and declared themselves totally innocent of any misdeeds.
How will the former president, well known for the egregious lies he tells, follow up his sons’ testimony?
Surely there will be a lot of name calling and rants about his victimhood: he has called the proceedings a political witch hunt and election interference.
The frontrunner for next year’s Republican presidential nomination has not testified publicly in any of the other ongoing legal cases against him, this will be unprecedented. But he has already repeatedly clashed with the judge overseeing the case, Arthur Engoron, who twice ruled that Mr. Trump had violated a gag order forbidding him from criticizing court staff and fined him $15,000, total.
Today he is to face a grilling, under oath, about evidence the trial has heard that he directed asset values to be fraudulently inflated so his company could secure favorable loans. He has two choices, either invoke the Fifth Amendment or lie under oath. Both could result in serious legal jeopardy. While testifying under oath in a deposition, which is out-of-court oral testimony, Trump pleaded the Fifth more than 400 times but did answer a few questions.
The unending rants against Judge Engoron’s law clerk, Michael Cohen, Letitia James and others, meant to intimidate the court and garner media attention, will be of no help to him on the witness stand where prosecutors will be asking pointed questions about his dealings. Trump could be grilled on black-and-white issues — such as why he overvalued his Mar-a-Lago resort and exaggerated the size of his Manhattan apartment. It “will be extremely hard for him to come up with a consistent theory that’s not going to get him into a lot of trouble,” former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann stated.
However, he is “known for giving meandering testimony” which according to Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, could get him into serious trouble. Experts also suggest that if Trump doesn’t testify in the civil trial, then under New York State law his silence can be read “to be the absolute worst.”
“I can’t imagine having a client like this,” Katyal admitted.
The public is eagerly looking forward to what promises to be an entertaining day in court, many on social media and user comment boards getting their popcorn ready.
Sharane wrote: “Trump’s lawyers should acknowledge, if only to themselves, he is going to put his foot in his mouth when he gets on the stand. Trump doesn’t know how to tell the truth, or what the truth really is.”
Jackolantern: “And it might be one of the best days for Americans! We just might have finally caught a very elusive rat by the tail, and it has no way to escape!”
Another user channels Trump’s incoherent and repetitive turn of phrase to anticipate the dark humor: