Key moments from Donald Trump’s fraud trial testimony

Donald Trump’s testimony in his high profile civil fraud case was, fittingly, not short of confrontation – with proceedings devolving into the typical bouts of name-calling and inflammatory rhetoric favoured by the former president.

On Monday Mr Trump took the stand in the New York trial, in which he is accused of overvaluing the worth of multiple properties in his portfolio.

Until he was called to the stand, he had been under no obligation to attend the trial which he has claimed is affecting his 2024 presidential bid – though he has appeared at court several times previously.

Despite being hit with $15,000 fines for breaching a gag order imposed by judge Arthur Engoron, who is overseeing the case, Mr Trump did not hold back after taking to the stand on Monday.

Here are some of the stand-out moments from his testimony.

Donald Trump in court (AP)
Donald Trump in court (AP)

Judge warns Trump ‘No speeches’

Tensions began to flare early on during Monday’s proceedings, after Judge Engoron urged Mr Trump and his legal team to “move things on a little faster”.

“Please, answer the questions, no speeches... Some of your answers are not in response to a question,” he told Mr Trump.

Mr Trump said: “I’m sure the judge will rule against me, he always rules against me.”

Later Judge Engoron, referencing his earlier objection, questioned the relevancy of part of defence attorney Christopher Kise’s narrative.

Following a somewhat curt response from Mr Kise, Judge Engoron replied: “You can attack me, you can do whatever you want, just answer the question.”

Court sketch of Donald Trump on the stand (AP)
Court sketch of Donald Trump on the stand (AP)

Trump attorney told to ‘control your client’

The heat did not die down throughout the morning, with Judge Engoron later asking Mr Kise: “Can you control your client? This is not a political realm.”

“I’ve asked several times to answer the question. I don’t think we want editorializing. We’ll be here forever and will accomplish nothing,” he added.

“You’re in control of the courtroom. Not me,” Mr Kise replied.

At another point, Judge Engoron told Mr Kise: “I beseech you, to control him. If you can’t, I will.”

“This is a situation where you have on the stand a candidate for president of the United States … and so the most efficient way I would ask the court is to listen to what he has to say and you weigh it,” Mr Kise replied.

“The court needs to hear what he has to say about these statements and why they’re reliable.”

The judge fired back: “These people are not here to hear what he has to say. He is here to answer questions.”

Trump zips his lips to camera

In a departure from his usual inflammatory rhetoric outside court, Mr Trump did not talk to reporters as he exited the courtroom during a recess period.

During the lunchtime recess the former president was escorted out, and was asked “Mr Trump, how’s it going today?”

The former president said nothing, but made the silent gesture of zipping his lips. He did not smile.

He did not speak to reporters upon his return to the courtroom either, though he gave a thumbs up.

On Monday, Alina Habba, part of the former president’s legal team, took questions from the press. She also attacked Judge Engoron as “unhinged”.

“I was told to sit down today. I was yelled at and I’ve had a judge who is unhinged slamming a table,” she told reporters, speaking outside court. “I don’t tolerate that in my life, I’m not going to tolerate it here.”

Trump boasts about Aberdeen golf course

Later in the day, questioning turned to Mr Trump’s Scottish property located near Aberdeen. Mr Trump told the court that Trump International Scotland was home to the “greatest golf course ever built”

Despite Judge Engoron’s attempts to stifle yet another “irrelevant” speech the former president continued: “We’ve gotten reviews saying, One of the greatest pieces of land we’ve ever seen.”

He added: “I’m not looking to build, I’m doing a lot of other things right now,” he says. “I just want to sit with it. It’s called an investment.”

The judge at one point ordered Trump’s lawyers to take ‘control’ of their client (Getty Images)
The judge at one point ordered Trump’s lawyers to take ‘control’ of their client (Getty Images)

The conversation took a stranger turn after the New York Attorney General’s office referenced a 2014 statement made to UK regulators, stating that the Trump Organization did not intend to develop the Aberdeen properties, because of wind farms.

“I’m not a windmill person,” Trump told the court.

“They’ll probably come down, like all wind farms come down,” Trump says. “They’re not on the property, they’re miles out … Regardless, we have the right to build a very big project.”

In remarks unrelated to the New York trial, Mr Trump has previously blamed windmills for killing whales.

Trump continues to attack New York Attorney General and Judge

Throughout the day, Mr Trump’s rambling statements were peppered with digs at both Judge Engoron and New York Attorney General Letitia James.

In one particularly explosive rant he said: “I think this case is a disgrace for people looking to move their business in New York … exactly because of this kind of thing.” He then attacked Ms James directly.

“The attorney general is sitting here all day long while people are being killed… I think it’s a disgrace. It’s election interference. You want to keep me in this courthouse all day … It’s sad … I want a jury. … I think it’s a disgrace … Legal scholars are saying it’s the most witch hunt they’ve ever seen.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James arrives at New York Supreme Court (AP)
New York Attorney General Letitia James arrives at New York Supreme Court (AP)

And to Kevin Wallace, the attorney general counsel questioning him: “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Earlier, he became visibly red in the face as he accused Judge Engoron of calling him a “fraud”.

Though not looking at the judge he said: “You ruled against me and you said I was a fraud. He called me a fraud, and he didn’t know anything about me.

“He’s the one who didn’t value the property correctly. How do you call a man a fraud who has a property that’s 50 to 100 times more … It’s a terrible thing you’ve done.”

After a beat, Mr Wallace asked him: “Are you done?” “Yeah,” the former president replied.

Trump admits to mistakes in valuations

During his testimony, Mr Trump acknowledged there had, on occasion, been mistakes, such as the valuation of the Trump Tower apartment.

The value of the apartment fell from $327m in 2016 to roughly $116.8m 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.

Mr Wallace asked the former president whether he was involved in the change, to which Mr Trump replied “probably,” and gave several possible explanations.

He acknowledged there could have “been a mistake” but said that’s why his statements included disclaimer clauses and that banks are responsible for their own due diligence.

Trump defence team intends to file for mistrial

Ms Habba informed the judge that the defence intends to file for a mistrial in the case. The Trump legal team added that they plan to complete their case by 15 December.

“A week early!” Justice Engoron said. He had previously allowed the trial to last until the weekend before Christmas.

Mr Trump’s defence team later declined to cross-examine the former president following his testimony.