Judge Denies Trump’s Request to Speak in New York Fraud Trial, Closing Arguments Proceed Without Former President’s Statement

NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump is not expected to speak during closing arguments in the New York civil fraud trial against him, according to Judge Arthur Engoron. In a letter to attorneys for Trump and the New York Attorney General, the judge stated that Trump had not agreed to the conditions he had set for giving a statement. The judge assumed that Trump would not agree to the limits imposed and therefore would not be speaking in court. The possibility of Trump participating in the closing arguments had been under discussion since last week.

Trump’s lawyers had opposed the plan for him to speak during the defense’s closing argument but acknowledged that the decision was up to the judge. They argued that allowing Trump to present a closing argument would disrupt the proceedings. The judge had previously indicated that Trump could speak in the courtroom with certain restrictions.

Trump’s court appearances have been used by him and his team to claim election interference, portray his legal troubles as political persecution, and divert media attention from his Republican rivals. The closing arguments come after a lackluster appearance by Trump in a Washington, D.C., courtroom. Trump appeared in oral arguments over his presidential immunity claims as a distraction from his GOP rivals ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

Although Trump is not facing criminal charges in the civil fraud case, the New York Attorney General is seeking $370 million in damages and to bar Trump from doing business in the state. The complaint alleges that Trump and his company defrauded banks and insurance companies by inflating the value of his assets. The judge has already ruled that Trump was liable for fraud and is now considering damages and six additional claims in the bench trial.

Throughout the 11-week trial, Trump has clashed repeatedly with Judge Engoron. The judge had to put a gag order in place after Trump posted attacks on social media about the judge’s clerk. Trump was fined twice for violating the order. Despite Trump’s insistence on attending the hearing, he decided to hold a press event afterward, causing his team to scramble for him to deliver remarks at a hotel.

Cameras will be allowed to take video and photos of Trump and the attorneys before closing arguments begin. However, an application by a coalition of media organizations to stream the proceedings live was denied by the judge due to safety concerns.

In conclusion, Judge Engoron does not expect Trump to speak during closing arguments in the New York civil fraud trial against him. Despite the possibility being under discussion, Trump has not agreed to the conditions set by the judge. Trump’s court appearances have been used to divert attention and claim political persecution. The trial involves allegations of fraud and seeks $370 million in damages. Trump has clashed with the judge throughout the trial, leading to fines and a gag order. Cameras will be allowed in the courtroom but the application to livestream the proceedings has been denied.