Former US president Donald J. Trump sits in the courtroom before testifying in the ongoing civil fraud trial being litigated in New York State Supreme Court in New York, New York, USA, 06 November 2023. EFE/EPA/JABIN BOTSFORD / POOL

Trump admits he ‘looked’ at company’s financial statements

New York, USA, Nov 6 (EFE).- Former United States President Donald Trump entered the New York courtroom on Monday, to testify as a witness in the civil trial for corporate fraud against the Trump Organization.

The former president arrived a few minutes before the start of the session, at 10 a.m., as he had done in previous appearances: dressed in a blue suit and blue tie, surrounded by his lawyers and with a serious face, looking straight ahead as he walked through the first row of the public, which included prosecutor Letitia James, for whom Trump does not hide his animosity.

After the public was called to order, Judge Arthur Engoron allowed photographers in and said he wanted to move quickly, so he called Trump to the witness chair; he walked slowly, took his oath, and sat down to testify with a calm demeanor.

The deputy prosecutor, Kevin Wallace, asked him about the creation of a trust for his company before winning the presidency in 2016, and he replied that he appointed his son Donald Jr. as one of the administrators because he was “a hardworking boy,” and shortly before leaving the White House he regained his responsibilities because he planned to return to business.

He then took the opportunity to throw his first punch at the prosecutors and appear combative with the judge, pointing out that both Wallace and other Democrats were attacking him from many sides.

The prosecutor asked if it was true that he had reviewed the financial statements, referring to the information on which the case is based and which the prosecution alleges contained inflated asset figures to gain advantages with lenders and insurers.

“I would look at them, I would see them, and I would maybe on occasion have some suggestions,” Trump answered, but insisted on his main defense argument: that those documents contain a clause that renders them “worthless.”

In an earlier deposition, Trump had declared that the statements contained a clause that said, “Don’t believe the statement, go out and do your own work. This statement is ‘worthless. It means nothing,” but Judge Engoron had found that “the clause does not use the words ‘worthless’ or ‘useless’ or ‘ignore’ or any similar words.”

On Monday, Engoron pressed Trump not to make speeches during his testimony, prompting a complaint from the defense attorney, Christopher Kise, who justified that they were “open questions.”

Monday’s appearance in the trial, which is civil in nature and can only result in fines, will offer a preview of the Republican front-runner’s strategy and demeanor ahead of the four criminal cases he faces in the coming months.

The prosecution already claimed an early victory when Judge Engoron summarily ruled in its favor before trial, finding the defendants liable on the main charge, continuing fraud, and suspending their licenses to operate in the state, a matter that is on hold pending appeal.

The trial, which will last through December, will address six counts related to alleged illegalities at the Trump Organization, such as document fraud, and the financial awards; Trump’s ability to do business in the state is also at stake.