Former President Donald Trump took center stage in the New York City courtroom presided over by Justice Arthur Engoron on Thursday. In an unanticipated move during the closing arguments, Trump delivered a vigorous defense, asserting that he is a victim of fraud and deserves compensation for damages.
According to a Fox News report, the scene unfolded in what was expected to be a routine proceeding involving allegations against Trump, his sons, and several executives of the Trump Organization. They are accused of overvaluing properties to secure favorable bank loans. However, the day took an unexpected twist when Trump, defying courtroom norms, decided to speak in his own defense.
Trump’s attorney, Chris Kyes, initially requested permission for the former President to speak. While Justice Engoron set certain restrictions, Trump did not directly respond to these limitations. Instead, he immediately began his defense, proclaiming his innocence and labeling the proceedings as “political persecution.”
The case centers around the civil investigation conducted by the New York Attorney General’s office into the business practices of Donald Trump and the Trump Organization. The investigation, led by Attorney General Letitia James, has examined whether Trump and his company engaged in financial fraud by manipulating the value of assets on financial statements.
During his impromptu speech, Trump passionately argued that he was wrongfully targeted and should be awarded damages. The bold assertion came as a surprise to those present in the courtroom, a reflection of Trump’s characteristic defiance of conventional protocols.
The tension in the courtroom escalated when Trump ignored the judge’s one-minute warning to conclude his remarks. Paraphrasing his response to the judge, Trump questioned the time constraint, pointing to the importance of his statement.
“I’m an innocent man persecuted. I have to go outside the bands,” Trump declared. The development adds another layer to the ongoing legal battles faced by the former President.
The family has been entangled in legal disputes with the New York AG who they claim is pursuing a politically motivated “witch hunt.” Trump has echoed these sentiments since the start of the case in October of 2023. The former president condemned the actions of AG James and Judge Engoron in what he has long termed: a “sham” trial.
The judge’s decision stated that the Mar-a-Lago property is worth a mere $18 million, a figure starkly contrasting Trump’s claim of its value being around $1.8 billion. The former president and his team have argued that the valuation has been grossly underestimated, affecting not just his business but his potential political future.