Trump blames hush money judge’s rulings for why he declined to testify

Former President Trump on Wednesday explained his rationale for not taking the stand in his hush money trial despite saying for months he would be willing to do so.

Trump, in an interview with WABC Radio in New York, partly attributed the decision to rulings from Judge Juan Merchan throughout the trial when other witnesses were on the stand that were oftentimes not in his defense team’s favor.

Earlier in the trial, the judge narrowed the scope of what Trump could be asked about on the stand but allowed prosecutors to ask the former president about other civil cases he was involved in, namely the one involving columnist E. Jean Carroll.

“Because he made rulings that makes it very difficult to testify,” Trump said. “Anything I did, anything I did in the past they can bring everything up. And you know what, I’ve had a great past.”

“The other reason is because they have no case,” Trump added. “In other words, why testify when they have no case … There’s no crime … so when you say, ‘Why not testify,’ they have no case, other than it’s a corrupt system.”

Trump earlier in the month accused Merchan of “doing everything in his power to make this trial as salacious as possible, even though these things have NOTHING to do with this FAKE case.”

The criticism was possibly a reference to the judge allowing prosecutors to raise the story of former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also allegedly had an affair with Trump roughly a decade before he was elected president.

Prosecutors called 20 witnesses over 15 days of testimony before resting its case Monday. Trump’s defense team called two witnesses and rested its case Tuesday, without calling the former president to the stand.

Trump had for weeks said he was willing to testify, but he had been coy about whether he would actually take the stand. Legal experts had warned it could be risky to allow Trump to testify, particularly given his combative nature and his penchant for false or misleading statements.

The former president faces 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment Michael Cohen made to porn actress Stormy Daniels in the lead-up to the 2016 election to stay quiet about her alleged affair with Trump from 2006, which he denies. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

The jury is expected to deliberate on the case next week.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.