Trump, Judge Engoron trade jabs during former president's testimony in civil trial stemming from NYAG lawsuit

Former President Trump traded jabs at New York Judge Arthur Engoron as he testified on the stand Monday morning during the non-jury civil trial stemming from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against him and his businesses in the state.

Nov 6, 2023 - 19:11
Trump, Judge Engoron trade jabs during former president's testimony in civil trial stemming from NYAG lawsuit

Former President Trump traded jabs with New York Judge Arthur Engoron as he testified on the stand Monday morning during the non-jury civil trial stemming from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against him and his businesses in the state.

Kevin Wallace, a lawyer in the New York Attorney General’s Office, began questioning the president during his unprecedented time on the stand — specifically about his statements of financial condition.

Trump said the statements were "not really documents the banks paid much attention to," and Wallace asked how he knew that. The former president said he has been dealing with banks for "50 years and they look at the deals." 

"We’ll explain it as this trial goes along — crazy trial," Trump said.


Engoron, though, said Wallace was being "patient" but wanted the questioning to move along faster.

"Please just answer the questions — no speeches," Engoron said.

Trump’s defense attorney Chris Kise interjected, saying the questions are open-ended and required lengthy answers.

Wallace went on to show Trump his 2014 statement of financial condition. Wallace read a portion that said Trump was responsible for preparing that statement.

"What they wanted was as much information as we could give them so that they could do their statements," Trump said, adding that he was responsible for giving preparers the necessary information.


When asked what he was personally responsible for, Trump said, "It was so long ago, but well beyond the statute of limitations for anyone else, but not me because I’m sure the judge will rule against me." 

Engoron fired back at Kise, asking if Trump’s comment was a "necessary part of the narrative?" 

Kise said the judge should allow the former president of the United States "a little latitude."

Engoron went on to ask Trump to "answer the question." 

"You can attack me as much as you want, but please answer the question," Engoron said.

Trump testified that he authorized and gave preparers information that was necessary for those statements.

"I’m probably more expert than anyone else, so someone would ask me and if I had opinion I would give it," Trump said.

Wallace went on to ask the former president if the values on the statements were ever "off."

Trump said on occasion they were either higher or lower. When asked for an example, the former president said Mar-A-Lago was underestimated "but I didn’t do anything about it."


"Values are far bigger than what’s on the statements…I thought 40 Wall St…Doral was underestimated, considerably more valuable," he said of his properties.

In a shot at Engoron, Trump said the judge said Mar-a-Lago is worth "$18 million, but it is worth 50 to 100 times more than that."

"But the judge ruled against me," Trump said. "I don’t know how he got to those numbers." 

Trump added, "The most valuable asset was the brand asset, but I didn’t put it on the statement…If I wanted to build up a statement, like you said, I would have added the brand value here."

Wallace went on to ask additional questions, but Trump continued speaking.

Engoron fired back at Kise, "Can you control your client? This is not a political rally; this is a courtroom"

"I’ve asked the witness several times to answer the questions," he said. "Maybe you should have a talk with him right now."

Kise said some questions "call for narratives." 

Later, Engoron slammed Trump, saying, "In addition to not answering, you’re repetitive…Mr. Kise, can you control your client?"

Kise argued that the questions are not "tight" questions, and that Trump is not a lawyer.


Meanwhile, Wallace began another line of questioning, and Engoron fired back at Kise saying, "Mr. Kise, I beseech you to control him. If you can’t, I will."  

Kise, defending the former president, said the judge should want to hear everything the witness has to say.

"I don’t want to hear everything he has to say," Engoron said. 

Trump's defense continued that it is "necessary, beneficial, and relevant to answer the questions in this manner." 

Trump attorney Alina Habba said Wallace "should try to ask better questions." 

"I’m not here to hear what he has to say…he goes into speeches," Engoron said. 

Habba fired back, telling the judge he should be present to listen to the former president's testimony. 

"This is a very, very unfair trial, and I hope the public is watching," Trump said. 

The former president and 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner took the stand Monday morning in the civil trial stemming from James’ lawsuit against him, his family and his businesses. James alleged Trump defrauded banks and inflated the value of his assets.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly said his assets were actually undervalued. Trump has repeatedly said his financial statements had disclaimers, requesting that the numbers be evaluated by the banks.

After a break in his testimony, Trump again took the stand, defending himself and his businesses, and blasting the investigation, lawsuit and non-jury trial.

"We shouldn’t be having a case here because we have a disclaimer clause that every court holds up except this judge," Trump said, referring to the disclaimers on all of his financial statements and statements of financial condition.

"They're trying to hurt me — especially her," Trump said, referring to James. "For political reasons."

Trump went on to call James a "political hack," saying she used her investigation and lawsuit against him "to become governor, to become attorney general." The former president was referring to James’ campaigns, in which she vowed to "get Trump." 

"This is a political witch hunt, and she should be ashamed of herself," Trump said. "The fraud is her."

James, a Democrat, sued Trump, his children and the Trump Organization last year, alleging he and his company misled banks and others about the value of his assets. James claimed the former president’s children — Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka and Eric — as well as his associates and businesses, committed "numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation" on their financial statements.

Engoron, in September, ruled that Trump and the Trump Organization committed fraud while building his real estate empire by deceiving banks, insurers and others by overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing.

"He ruled against me without knowing anything about me," Trump said on the stand. "He called me a fraud, and he didn’t know anything about me."

Trump went on to slam Engoron for undercutting the value of his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, a property Engoron valued at $18 million.

"$18 million, he said — and I'm a fraud for not valuing the property? How do you call a man a fraud when you have a property 50 to 100 times more?" Trump said. "You believed the political hack back there, and that's unfortunate." 

A state attorney, Kevin Wallace, who was leading the questioning of Trump, asked if the former president was "done."

"Done," Trump said.