Donald Trump Takes Unprecedented Step, Defies Judge to Deliver Impassioned Closing Remarks in Fraud Trial

NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump took advantage of an opportunity to speak in court at the conclusion of his New York civil fraud trial on Thursday. Trump, who was barred from giving a formal closing argument, delivered a six-minute diatribe before being cut off by the judge.

In an unprecedented move for a defendant, Trump insisted on making his own summation despite being asked by the judge to stay focused on matters related to the trial. He protested his innocence and accused someone running for office of persecuting him.

During his personal summation, Trump attacked the judge and accused him of working closely with the New York Attorney General, who brought the lawsuit against him. The trial involves allegations that Trump exaggerated his wealth on financial statements, deceiving a bank and insurance companies. The state is seeking $370 million in penalties and a prohibition on Trump doing business in New York.

The judge is expected to deliver a verdict by January 31. He previously rejected Trump’s request to make his own closing remarks, as Trump’s lawyers would not agree to stick to “relevant” matters.

The closing arguments followed a bomb threat at the judge’s house earlier in the day. The scare did not disrupt proceedings, and the judge did not mention it in court.

New York Attorney General Letitia James expressed her indifference to Trump’s personal attacks, stating that the case is about the facts and the law. She argued that Trump violated the law by intentionally falsifying financial statements to benefit his business.

Throughout the trial, Trump clashed with the judge and state lawyers, and he has made multiple appearances in court to observe, testify, and address the media about the case. He faces four criminal cases, including allegations of plotting to overturn the 2020 election, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

The trial involves six undecided claims of conspiracy, insurance fraud, and falsifying business records. Trump’s company and his sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., are also defendants in the case. While the judge has indicated a lean toward finding Trump liable on some claims, he questioned the evidence of the sons’ knowledge of the alleged fraud.

Despite the conclusion of the trial, the legal challenges for Trump continue, with ongoing court appearances in Washington, D.C. AP reporters Michelle L. Price and Jake Offenhartz contributed to this report.

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