Chaos ensued during the hearing.
Former President Trump engaged in a heated exchange with New York Judge Arthur Engoron as he took the stand on Monday during a non-jury civil trial related to New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against him and his businesses in the state.
According to Fox, Kevin Wallace, an attorney from the New York Attorney General’s Office, began his line of questioning by focusing on Trump’s financial statements. Trump downplayed the significance of these statements, suggesting that banks didn’t pay much attention to them. When asked how he knew that, Trump cited his extensive experience in dealing with banks over five decades, asserting that they primarily evaluated the deals themselves.
As the trial unfolded, Trump referred to it as a “crazy trial,” but Judge Engoron intervened, urging him to answer questions directly without lengthy speeches. Trump’s defense attorney, Chris Kise, argued that the questions required open-ended responses.
Wallace then presented Trump with his 2014 financial statement, emphasizing that Trump had personally prepared it. Trump explained that he had provided the preparers with as much information as possible to assist them in creating the statements.
When asked about his personal responsibilities in this process, Trump responded, “It was so long ago, but well beyond the statute of limitations for anyone else, but not me because I’m sure the judge will rule against me.” Judge Engoron questioned whether this remark was necessary, but Kise defended Trump’s right to some leeway.
However, Judge Engoron persisted in requesting that Trump “answer the question,” stressing that while he could attack him, he should still provide direct answers. Trump testified that he had authorized and provided the necessary information for the statements, given his expertise in the matter.
Wallace continued to press Trump, inquiring about whether the values on the statements were ever inaccurate. Trump admitted that occasionally they were either too high or too low, mentioning that Mar-a-Lago had been underestimated but he had taken no action to rectify it. Trump also claimed that properties like 40 Wall St. and Doral were undervalued in his opinion.
In a pointed remark, Trump criticized Judge Engoron for his valuation of Mar-a-Lago, claiming it was worth significantly more than the judge’s assessment. He also stated that he did not include the brand value in the statements, as it would have inflated their worth.
Wallace attempted to ask more questions, but Trump continued to offer unsolicited commentary. Judge Engoron reproached Trump for his behavior, emphasizing that the courtroom was not a political rally.
Kise argued that some questions required narrative responses, and Judge Engoron criticized Trump for his repetitiveness. He implored Kise to control his client.
Wallace proceeded with further questioning, and Judge Engoron again urged Kise to exert control over Trump’s behavior. Kise defended Trump, arguing that the questions were not concise and that Trump wasn’t a lawyer.
As the back-and-forth continued, Judge Engoron expressed his frustration with Trump’s responses and Kise’s inability to manage his client. Trump’s defense maintained that the manner in which they answered the questions was necessary and relevant.
Another attorney, Alina Habba, interjected, suggesting that Wallace should pose better questions. Judge Engoron made it clear that he did not want to hear Trump’s speeches during the trial.
Habba responded by suggesting that the judge should be present to listen to the former president’s testimony. In response, Trump expressed his view that the trial was unfair and hoped that the public was observing the proceedings closely.