On Monday, former United States President Donald Trump testified in a New York court as part of a civil fraud trial that poses a significant threat to his real estate business, The Trump Organization. According to a report by the news agency AFP, Trump, aged 77, was sworn in just after 10:00 am (1500 GMT) and provided his testimony in a Manhattan courtroom presided over by Judge Arthur Engoron.
Trump and his two adult sons, Don Jr and Eric, and other Trump Organization executives are accused of exaggerating the value of their real estate assets by billions of dollars to obtain more favourable bank loans and insurance terms.
In the courtroom, Trump dismissed the allegations that his company’s statements of financial condition were fraudulent, adding the value of the “Trump brand” was also not taken into account.
“I became president because of my brand,” he said under questioning from Kevin Wallace, a lawyer for New York Attorney General Letitia Jmes’s office which filed the case.
AFP reported Judge Engoron complained that Trump’s responses were too long to what were “yes” or “no” questions. “Please, just answer the questions, no speeches,” Engoron said, adding that this was not a political rally.
Speaking to reporters before he walked into the courtroom, Trump said, “This trial is ridiculous. The numbers are much greater than the financial statements. And we’ve already proven that they said Mar-a-Lago was worth $18 million. Mar-a-Lago’s worth anywhere from probably 50 to 100 times more than that. And it’s a terrible, terrible thing. These are political operatives that I’m going to be dealing with right now.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed the case, is seeking $250 million in fines.
“Mr. Trump has repeatedly and consistently misrepresented and inflated the value of his assets. And before he takes the stand, I am certain that he will engage in name-calling and taunts and race-baiting and call this a witch hunt. But at the end of the day, the only thing that matters are the facts and the numbers. And numbers, my friends, don’t lie,” James said ahead.