In an unexpected about-face, Donald Trump has announced that he will no longer be testifying in his civil fraud trial on Monday. The former president, who was questioned on the stand by New York prosecutors earlier in the trial, had been set to take the stand Monday as part of his defense.
In a two-part, all-caps screed posted to Truth Social, Trump wrote that “will not be testifying on Monday. MAGA!”
“As everyone knows, I have very successfully & conclusively testified in the corrupt, Biden-directed, New York State Attorney General’s rigged trial against me,” he fumed, adding later that he had “nothing more to say other than that this is a complete & total election interference (Biden campaign!) witch hunt.”
A source close to the matter told The Daily Beast that Trump’s lawyers simultaneously notified the court and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office that he would not be testifying on Monday.
The former president testified at the fraud trial for more than three hours on Nov. 6, after weeks of relentlessly attacking the $250 million case brought against him by James’ office and the judge overseeing it. He was no less hostile on the stand, criticizing the proceedings and jabbing at his enemies, drawing sharp rebukes from Judge Arthur Engoron, who earlier fined Trump $15,000 for twice violating a gag order prohibiting him from speaking publicly about the judge’s staff.
“This is not a political rally,” an exasperated Engoron told Trump at one point.
Two people familiar with Trump’s thinking told The New York Times on Sunday that his team believes any further testimony would do more harm than good.
James filed her suit against Trump last year, accusing him and his allies of intentionally inflating the value of his assets to secure better financial terms. In addition to the $250 million her office is seeking, James has asked that the court bar Trump from ever operating a business in New York again. Trump has denied all wrongdoing in the matter, and repeatedly lashed out at James as a “political hack” working to push President Joe Biden’s agenda.
With Trump’s reversal on Sunday, proceedings will likely wrap up quickly. His attorneys were expected to rest their case after questioning him, though he would have faced cross-examination by James’ office. State lawyers are set to call a number of witnesses for rebuttal testimony, after which the trial will break until January.
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