Former President Donald Trump has declared that he will not appear to testify in the ongoing New York civil fraud trial against him. In a statement on Truth Social, Trump cited bias from Judge Arthur Engoron and criticized the New York Attorney General’s office and President Joe Biden’s campaign, labeling the trial as “election interference” and a “witch hunt.”
Trump’s announcement marks a departure from his earlier indication that he would testify on Monday. This decision follows his previous testimony on November 6, where he refuted claims by New York Attorney General Letitia James that he inflated the value of his properties for bank loans. Trump has been vocal in his criticisms of both James and Engoron, branding James as a “political hack” and Engoron as a “very hostile judge.”
The former president was not legally required to testify in his defense. This mirrors the decision of his son, Eric Trump, who also chose not to testify last Wednesday after an initial testimony in early November.
Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, had previously expressed Trump’s eagerness to testify, despite a gag order preventing him from critiquing Engoron’s law clerk. Habba had advised against his testimony, but noted Trump’s determination to confront the proceedings in court.
The defense’s “final expert witness,” mentioned by Trump, refers to Eli Bartov, an NYU accounting professor. Bartov testified that he found no evidence of fraud in Trump’s financial statements. However, it was revealed during the trial that Bartov had received $875,000 from the Trump Organization and Trump’s Save America PAC for his involvement in the case, a fact he claimed did not influence his testimony.
The trial is expected to continue with two rebuttal witnesses from the attorney general’s office following Bartov’s testimony. Closing arguments are scheduled for January 11. The case has attracted significant attention, spotlighting Trump’s business practices and the ongoing tensions between his camp and state legal authorities.