Trump Defies Conditions, Launches Fiery Closing Argument in Fraud Trial

Walter Engoron, a judge in New York City, had a chaotic day in court as former President Donald Trump made an unsanctioned closing argument in a civil fraud trial against him and his company, the Trump Organization. Trump’s lawyer had initially requested permission for the former president to participate in the closing arguments, but Engoron placed several conditions on his participation, including limiting his remarks to the issues at hand and refraining from giving a “campaign speech.” Despite not accepting these conditions, Trump declared his desire to speak after his lawyers finished presenting their arguments.

During the proceeding, Engoron asked Trump to promise to stick to the law and the facts, but instead, Trump launched into his typical criticisms, calling the case a “political witch hunt.” He claimed to be an innocent man persecuted by someone running for office, referring to Letitia James, the New York attorney general. Engoron warned Trump about the time constraints, and Trump turned his attention to the judge himself, criticizing his alleged bias.

Prior to Trump’s remarks, his lawyer, Chris Kise, presented his closing arguments, stating that Trump undervalued his assets on financial statements and that banks and insurers did not consider themselves defrauded. Trump’s lawyers also targeted Michael Cohen, who testified that Trump ordered him and Allen Weisselberg, former CFO of the Trump Organization, to inflate Trump’s net worth. They referred to Cohen as a “serial liar.”

On the other side, Letitia James’ lawyers argued that fraud was central to the operations of the Trump Organization. They presented a graph showing that if certain elements obtained through fraud, such as favorable interest rates, were eliminated, the company would have had a negative cash flow. They claimed that Trump relied on these savings to sustain his business and self-financed campaign.

Engoron made few comments during the closing arguments, but he questioned the evidence regarding Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump’s knowledge of the alleged fraud. He expressed doubts about the evidence against Eric Trump and requested more clarification on Donald Trump Jr.’s involvement.

The trial’s conclusion marked a significant development for Engoron, who had a tumultuous start to the day when police arrived at his house to investigate a swatting incident, but no evidence of a threat was found.

In summary, the civil fraud trial against Donald Trump and the Trump Organization came to a close, with Trump making an off-script closing argument despite the judge’s conditions. Both sides presented their arguments, with Trump’s lawyers emphasizing undervalued assets and attacking the credibility of a key witness, while James’ lawyers pointed to alleged fraud integral to Trump’s business operations. The judge expressed skepticism regarding the evidence against Trump’s sons. The trial’s conclusion followed a security incident at the judge’s home earlier in the day.