While he was scheduled to testify Monday in his own defense at the civil trial for financial fraud, Donald Trump changed his mind and declared Sunday that he would not take the stand because he has “nothing more to say” .
The 77-year-old former president posted a surprise message on the Truth Social network, saying he had “already testified to everything” in the ongoing trial against him, his eldest sons Donald Jr and Eric, and other executives of the Trump Organization.
The latter are accused of having colossally inflated during the 2010s the value of skyscrapers, luxury hotels or golf courses at the heart of his empire, to obtain more favorable loans from banks and better insurance conditions.
Since the start of the trial on October 2, the Republican billionaire has railed against justice each time he comes to court, denouncing a “witch hunt” or a “trial worthy of banana republics”. After attacks on his clerk, the judge banned Donald Trump from speaking about his team and imposed two fines totaling US$15,000 for violating the order.
Unlike the criminal trials that await him in 2024, including that for his alleged maneuvers aimed at reversing the result of the November 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump does not risk prison time in this civil case.
But he is playing big and things are off to a bad start.
Even before the opening of the proceedings, Judge Arthur Engoron estimated at the end of September that the prosecution presented “conclusive evidence that between 2014 and 2021, the defendants overvalued the assets” of the group by “812 million [à] 2.2 billion dollars” depending on the year, in the figures recorded on Donald Trump’s annual financial statements.
As a result of “repeated fraud,” he ordered the liquidation of companies managing these assets, such as the Trump Tower on 5e Avenue de New York or the almost century-old skyscraper of 40 Wall Street. Measures suspended on appeal.
The trial concerns several other crimes, such as insurance fraud, and financial penalties sought by the New York State Attorney General’s Office, which is seeking $250 million.
Donald Trump’s lawyers denounce an empty file.
They assure that real estate evaluations are necessarily subjective and that the banks, duly reimbursed, have carried out good financial operations. In recent weeks, witnesses called by the defense, including a current and a former executive at Deutsche Bank, one of the lending institutions, have gone in this direction.
But according to another investment banker, the boss of MM Dillon & Co., Michiel McCarty, the banks could have decided to set higher interest rates if they had had a less rosy picture of Donald Trump’s financial situation at their disposal. . He estimated interest losses at $168 million from 2014 to 2023, a calculation disputed by the defense.