A combative Donald Trump clashed repeatedly with the judge on Monday as he took the stand in the New York civil fraud case threatening to cripple his real estate empire.
One year out from an election he hopes will return him to the White House, Trump became the first former US president to testify as a defendant in a court case in more than a century.
During his testimony, the 77-year-old Trump accused Judge Arthur Engoron of issuing “fraudulent” rulings, and denounced New York state attorney general Letitia James, who brought the case against him, as a “political hack.”
“He called me a fraud and he did not know anything about me,” Trump said of the judge, who was sitting right next to him, before calling the trial a “political witch hunt.”
“This is not a political rally,” the judge admonished Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. “Please, just answer the questions, no speeches.”
At one point, a visibly angry Engoron told Trump’s lawyer, Christopher Kise, to “control your client.”
Dressed in a dark blue suit and tie with an American flag on his lapel, Trump denounced what he called a “very unfair” and “crazy trial” brought by Democrats “coming after me from 15 different sides.”
Trump, his eldest 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 favorable bank loans and insurance terms.
Testifying under oath, Trump dismissed allegations that the company’s financial statements were fraudulent, describing them as “very conservative.”
“They were not really documents that the banks paid much attention to,” he said, and the value of the “Trump brand” was not taken into account in the valuations of his assets.
“I became president because of my brand,” Trump said under questioning from Kevin Wallace, a lawyer for the New York attorney general’s office.
– ‘Numbers, my friends, don’t lie’ –
James, the attorney general, told reporters before Trump’s testimony that the former president had “consistently misrepresented and inflated the value of his assets.”
“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,” James said. “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.”
Trump has repeatedly attacked James, who is Black, as “racist,” and has also gone after Engoron, calling the judge “unhinged” and a “Trump-hating radical left, Democrat operative.”
Engoron has responded by slapping Trump with $15,000 in fines for violating a partial gag order imposed after he bashed the judge’s clerk on social media.
Trump’s testimony follows that of his sons Don Jr. and Eric, who took the stand last week and blamed accountants for any inaccuracies in the financial statements of the company.
According to The Washington Post, the last former president to testify publicly as a defendant was Theodore Roosevelt, who took the stand during a 1915 libel trial.
Trump has already given testimony twice in connection with this case, both times in closed-door depositions.
– First of several trials –
Trump and his sons do not risk going to jail, but face up to $250 million in penalties and potential removal from the management of the family company.
Even before opening arguments, Engoron ruled that James’s office had already shown “conclusive evidence” that Trump had overstated his net worth on financial documents by between $812 million and $2.2 billion between 2014 and 2021.
As a result, the judge ordered the liquidation of the companies managing the assets in question, such as the Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street skyscrapers in Manhattan.
That order is on hold pending appeal, but its potentially sweeping consequences highlight the high stakes for the former president.
The civil fraud trial is one of several legal battles Trump faces as he seeks to recapture the presidency.
In March, Trump — who was impeached twice while in office — faces a trial on charges that he conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden.
‘Tinubu Won’t Tolerate Killer Herders’ – Sunday Igboho Replies Miyetti Allah
Yoruba nation activist Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, said on Sunday that President Bola Tinubu will not allow lawlessness that led to herders killing farmers under the immediate past administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.
Igboho cautioned herders against the thought of further attacks on farmers in the Southwest.
He remarked in reaction to a comment by the national president of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Abdullahi Bello Bodejo, who dismissed his recent quit notice to Fulani herders to vacate the Southwest.
In October, Igboho had given Fulani herders seven days to vacate the Southwest.
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However, Bodejo had condemned the ultimatum issued by Igboho in a recent interview.
Igboho, in his reaction, described Bodejo as a “mere attention seeker.” He insisted that Nigeria’s Constitution does not support mindless killings of farmers, rape of their wives, and destruction of farmlands.
In a statement he signed, Igboho said: “Some alleged killer Fulani herders must be stopped from re-igniting tension and an atmosphere of insecurity in any part of Nigeria, most especially in the agrarian communities and settlements in Yorubaland, by the security agencies.
“It is imperative for the Miyetti Allah group to be conscious of the fact that the acts of lawlessness permeated under former President Muhammadu Buhari will not hold sway under the immediate incumbent President Bola Tinubu.
“It is glaring that Bodejo is merely seeking undue recognition through his unjustifiable position on the carnage by his fellow Fulani herders, which had caused untold hardship for small and large-scale farmers, even in the North and more prominently in the South, where they often move their cattle to graze farms and destroy cash crops.
“It will do them a lot of good to perish the thought of unprovoked attacks on farmers, particularly in the South West, where we have lost many innocent farmers. Relevant security agencies and the people will not allow them to further compound the woes of the common man.”
Julius Berger Hands Over Second Niger Bridge To FG
Construction giant and contractor of the Second Niger Bridge, Julius Berger, has formally handed over the multi-billion naira project to the Federal Government.
In a brief ceremony at toll area of the bridge, the Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, expressed satisfaction with the project, confirming that the contractor had carried out repairs on the vandalized portions
He also noted that the bridge is open to concession to any private company who would be ready to complete all the ancillary roads, collect tolls and recoup investments.
Umahi hinted that modalities to ease traffic at the old and new bridges during the festive period are being worked out.
The 1.6 kilometers long bridge links Anambra and Delta states.
The Second Niger Bridge was first proposed during the 1978/79 political campaign by then-candidate Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN)
‘Waste Of Resources Amid Hardship’, Peter Obi Faults Number Of Nigerian Delegates At COP28
The 2023 presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, on Sunday, faulted the number of Nigeria’s delegation at the COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
President Bola Tinubu had on November 29, 2023 departed Abuja for Dubai for the summit expected to end December 12, 2023.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter), the ex-governor of Anambra State, described sending over 1,000 persons to the summit as a waste of scarce resources by the Tinubu administration.
Obi lamented the “huge contingent” in Dubai at public expense at a time when most Nigerians can hardly afford food and basic needs.
“Nigeria’s contingent to COP28 totaled 1411, the same number as the Chinese contingents. While China’s budget for 2024 is about $4 trillion, about $2,860 per head; Nigeria’s budget is about $33 billion, about $165 per head,” Obi said.
“Nigeria has more people living in ‘Multi-Dimensional’ poverty than China, despite China having seven times our population.”
Obi said majority of those in the Nigerian delegation to COP28 are either non-relevant civil servants or relations of high government officials.
“This huge contingent is out at public expense at a time when most Nigerians can hardly afford food and basic needs as a result of economic hardship.
“As we have kept emphasizing, we must stop waste as a a tradition of our government and nation. We urgently need to cut the cost of governance and invest in production.
“We need to de-emphasize unnecessary ceremony and showmanship as a mode of government behaviour. We need to tie spending to necessity and national Priority. A New Nigeria is possible. We only need to do the reasonable and the necessary.”
Meanwhile, a presidential aide, Temitope Ajayi, in a comment on Sunday, defended the delegation of the President to the summit, saying that “President Tinubu and other officials on the Federal government delegation are in Dubai for serious business not jamboree”.
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