Donald Trump testifies in New York civil fraud trial
Donald Trump returned from the break in his civil fraud trial to a smoother question-and-answer session, as Judge Arthur Engoron has not cut off the former president like he did in the first hour.
Assistant attorney general Kevin Wallace has been continuing to question Trump about the values of his various properties and his role in their appraisals, including his triplex apartment in Trump Tower.
Trump has still given several asides in his answer that were admonished by Engoron in the first hour, though the judge has mostly not stopped him since the break. “It’s much more valuable,” Trump said of Mar-a-Lago, “and we’ll show that in two weeks or five weeks or nine weeks or whenever this thing goes, that its biggest value is using it as a club.”
Wallace ignored Trump’s response and continued with his questions, and Engoron also did not interject. Wallace showed Trump a 2003 article in which the former president told a reporter Mar-A-Lago will always be a club.
“I think that was said with bravado, more than legal intent,” Trump said on the stand.
When Engoron did cut off Trump, it’s been briefer. Wallace asked Trump if the description in his 2014 financial statement was accurate for his golf club in Aberdeen, Scotland. Trump began to say how Aberdeen is an oil capitol which makes it valuable. “Irrelevant, irrelevant – answer the question,” Engoron said, speaking over Trump. Trump still managed to sneak in digs at the civil fraud case against him.
Wallace pressed Trump about why his Trump Tower apartment was reduced in value on his financial statement – it dropped from $327 million in 2016 to roughly $116.8 million in 2017 – which came after Forbes Magazine outed Trump in 2017 for claiming the apartment was more than 30,000 square feet when it turned out to be just under 11,000 square feet. Wallace asked Trump whether he was involved in the change. “Probably,” Trump said, before giving several possible explanations.
He acknowledged there could have “been a mistake” but said that’s why his statements included disclaimer clauses. “There’s a disclaimer clause where you don’t have to get sued by the attorney general of New York,” Trump said.