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Did He Think It Was a MAGA Rally? Donald Trump Went Wild in Court

Donald Trump goes crazy in court: In a rare moment of public testimony, the former president railed against the judge and the case against him while appearing in court Monday. 

Image by Gage Skidmore. Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Trump goes crazy in court: In a rare moment of public testimony, the former president railed against the judge and the case against him while appearing in court Monday. 

Donald Trump Goes Wild

Former President Donald Trump, as part of his civil fraud trial in New York, took the stand on Monday, and while testifying, he engaged in various belligerent behavior in dealing with the judge and state attorney general who brought the case. 

Trump brought “bombastic rhetoric to the witness stand,” which CNN compared to how he typically behaves while on the campaign trail. Trump said a lot of things that he’s said many times before, although they’re not the sort of things often said out loud by a defendant in a legal proceeding. 

During the trial, Judge Arthur Engoron repeatedly told Trump’s attorney to “control your client,” although ultimately all parties seemed content to let the former president continue ranting at will. He threatened to cut off the testimony but did not ultimately do so. 

“This is not a political rally,” the judge said at one point. The case is a bench trial, meaning that the judge will decide the outcome, rather than a jury. 

“This is a political witch hunt and I think she should be ashamed of herself,” Trump said of New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case. 

“The fraud is on the court, not on me,” Trump said at one point. “It’s a terrible thing you’ve done,” Trump said to the judge, about James, per the CNN report. “You believe this political hack back there and that’s unfortunate.”

“You have no case,” the former president said to one of the attorney general’s lawyers, at one point during the hearing, in a sentiment he has expressed before. “This case is a disgrace.”

The testimony did eventually deal with the facts of the case, including the accusation that Trump had inflated the value of his various properties. 

“There’s a disclaimer clause where you don’t have to get sued by the attorney general of New York,” Trump said when asked about his Trump Tower triplex, and how its listed value and square footage seemed to change over time. 

“If I wanted to build up the statement like you said I did before you found out just how rich we are, I would’ve added brand value here and I would’ve increased it by tens of millions of dollars,” Trump testified Monday. 

Trump also argued about the value of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, especially after the judge claimed in a ruling that the estate is only worth $18 million, while Trump announced its value at around $1.5 billion. 

“It’s much more valuable,” Trump said of Palm Beach estate, which he uses as his primary Florida residence, “and we’ll show that in two weeks or five weeks or nine weeks or whenever this thing goes, that it’s biggest value is using it as a club.”

Per the New York Times, the judge and former president “traded irritated facial expressions.”

“As Justice Engoron repeatedly overruled Mr. Trump’s lawyers’ objections, Mr. Trump again and again turned away from him and smirked,” the Times said of one moment during the trial. “He smirked and cocked his head. He smirked and shrugged. He smirked and looked at the ceiling.”

The case, in which the state attorney general sued Trump, his oldest children, and his company, is not a criminal proceeding but rather a civil case, in which the state is seeking to fine the Trumps, while also barring them from doing business in the state. 

As always, Trump is claiming that he committed no wrongdoing at all. 

This precedes the many different criminal trials that Trump is set for in 2024, the same year in which he is running for president and is the likely Republican nominee for the office. So Trump will likely spend much of the year shuffling back and forth between the campaign trail and courtrooms. 

Author Expertise and Experience

Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

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