Sunday brought about an unexpected turn of events when Donald Trump, entrepreneur and 45th President of the United States, decided against taking the stand in the New York based civil fraud trial, a case which could have implications for his esteemed real estate portfolio.
‘I have addressed all necessary matters and harbor nothing further to add, apart from acknowledging this ongoing probe as an absolute, unreserved witch hunt born out of election interference that will only serve to drive businesses away from our beloved New York,’ Trump confidently expressed in a post on his social media network, Truth Social.
The spirited ex-President, now 77, had originally planned to leverage the opportunity of his testimony as part of the culminating defence against the charges levelled by New York’s Attorney General – Letitia James.
The crux of the case revolves around allegations that he inflated his net worth by several billion a year, a tactic aimed to secure more favorable conditions in loan and insurance negotiations.
The previous round of interrogation which occurred last month was noticeably tense, as Trump and his defense team found themselves at loggerheads several times over with Justice Arthur Engoron of the Manhattan Supreme Court, who presides over this non-jury trial.
Trump surprisingly appeared on the stand for a brief period in October upon the request of Justice Engoron, who was keen to probe further into any potential breach of the restrictive gag order that prohibited Trump and his legal team from discussing court personnel.
During this brief engagement with the stand, Trump emphatically negated any insinuation of referring to Engoron’s top law clerk – Allison Greenfield – when he made the comment: ‘This judge is a very partisan judge with a person who is very partisan sitting alongside him.’
Despite his denial, Engoron didn’t seem convinced that Trump’s remarks were aimed at Michael Cohen – Trump’s ex-lawyer and ‘fixer’ who was present for testimony – and imposed a $10,000 penalty on Trump, which was an increment to the earlier $5,000 fine for disregarding his court-imposed gag order.
Trump had made his presence felt in the courtroom on eight occasions over the 42 day-long trial without any legal obligation to do so, unlike a criminal trial. Eric Trump, his son, had also been slated to testify once more in their defense after being summoned as a witness by the AG’s team, yet, mirroring his father, he did not end up testifying as per the initial plan.
Last week, Trump’s legal representation presented an expert witness to the court – Eli Bartov, a distinguished professor of accounting from New York University. His testimony, expected to reach its conclusion by Tuesday, is considered significant in this trial. Trump recently attended the proceedings to witness the testimonial of Bartov, who unequivocally declared, ‘There is absolutely no sign of fraudulent accounting activity whatsoever’ and dismissed James’ case as baseless.
Trump, pleased with the professor’s assertions, praised Bartov’s testimonial as a victory for his defense case, quoting Bartov as ‘one of the greatest experts’ and a ‘highly respected man,’ who believed that there shouldn’t be any liability for fraud found in Trump’s actions.
Despite currently leading rankings for the Republican Presidential candidate for 2024, Trump has consistently utilized his media presence during court appearances to critique Justice Engoron, Attorney General James, and the entirety of the trial proceeding, maintaining his position as the target of a politically-motivated vendetta.
By way of a revelatory verdict delivered right before the trial began, Justice Engoron ruled the former President accountable on one of the key fraudulent charges by the AG’s office. The ruling led to the revocation of business licenses owned by the Trump Organization within the state of New York, however, this decision has been stalled until the trial’s completion.
Upon the finalization of Bartov’s testimony, the AG is anticipated to present a brief counter-argument. Justice Engoron, high steward of this pivotal trial, isn’t expected to arrive at his final judgment until the latter part of January. The outcome of this situation will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the narrative of this nation’s entrepreneurial landscape.