Donald Trump’s attorneys are set to wrap up the case for the defence in his civil fraud trial in New York next week, with the former president set to be the final witness, giving testimony for the second time at the trial.
His son Eric Trump was also set to take the stand again on Wednesday in his capacity as executive vice president of the Trump Organization overseeing the management and operation of the global real estate empire.
Unexpectedly on Tuesday, though, Trump family attorney Clifford Robert told the court that the defence “has decided not to call” Eric to the stand. He offered no explanation.
It was not until Tuesday evening that former president Trump stepped forward with an explanation as to why Eric would not be appearing in court again.
He wrote in a post on Truth Social: “I told my wonderful son, Eric, not to testify tomorrow at the RIGGED TRIAL brought about by A.G. Letitia James’ campaign promise that, without knowing anything about me, ‘I WILL GET TRUMP!’ She ran for A.G., then Governor of New York, and lost!
“Eric has already testified, PERFECTLY (Unlike their STAR witness-who admitted he lied!), so there is no reason to waste any more of this Crooked Court’s time on having him say the same thing, over and over again, as a witness for the defense (us!). His young life has already been unfairly disturbed and disrupted enough on this corrupt Witch Hunt.
“Besides, I will be testifying on Monday in this shameful, NO JURY ALLOWED ‘TRIAL.’ Happy Banks and Insurance Companies, NO VICTIMS, GREAT FINANCIAL STATEMENTS, Perfect Disclaimer Clause - BUT A CORRUPT ATTORNEY GENERAL AND JUDGE!!!”
The former president, Eric, eldest son Donald Trump Jr, and daughter Ivanka Trump all testified when attorneys for New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office laid out the case for the plaintiffs.
The defence only has two other witnesses — a New York University professor who will talk about accounting and valuation practices in real estate, and the former president himself.
As those scheduled testimonies could not be moved, the trial in Justice Arthur Engoron’s courtroom at the New York State Supreme Court in Lower Manhattan has taken a break for a day before proceedings resume.
On Monday, Mr Trump lost his attempt to get a fast-tracked appeal hearing on the gag order ruling in the state appeals court.
Originally imposed by Judge Engoron to protect his court staff from abuse by the former president and his supporters, the order was paused and then reinstated after hundreds of documented incidents of harassment were shown to the appeal court judge in an affidavit from court security.
Mr Trump’s lawyers do not want him back on the stand with the order still in place, with lead attorney Christopher Kise making a lengthy request to postpone the former president’s testimony until the appeals court has ruled.
In response, Judge Engoron said: “Absolutely not. No way. No how. It’s a nonstarter.”
Once testimony concludes, attorneys for both parties will issue written briefings to the court before 5 January, with oral arguments to follow, before the judge issues a final judgment sometime next month.
A lawsuit from the New York attorney general accuses the former president, his two adult sons and chief business associates in his Trump Organization empire of grossly inflating his net worth and assets in financial statements given to banks and lenders to receive favourable financing terms.
Judge Engoron has already found the defendants liable for fraud.
The trial stemming from the lawsuit, now in its ninth week, threatens to collapse his real estate empire in the state and could result in tens of millions of dollars in fines against the defendants.