Trump says he won't testify again at New York trial

By Michael R Sisak and Jill Colvin
Updated December 11 2023 - 8:15am, first published 8:12am
Former president Donald Trump's civil fraud trial in New York threatens his real estate empire. (AP PHOTO)
Former president Donald Trump's civil fraud trial in New York threatens his real estate empire. (AP PHOTO)

Donald Trump says he has decided against testifying for a second time at his New York civil fraud trial.

In a social media post on Sunday, the former president said he "VERY SUCCESSFULLY & CONCLUSIVELY" testified last month and saw no need to appear again.

Trump had been expected to return to the witness stand on Monday as the last big defence witness in the case, which threatens his real estate empire and cuts to the heart of his image as a successful businessman.

Trump announced he was cancelling his testimony in an all-capital letters, multipart statement on his Truth Social platform, writing: "I WILL NOT BE TESTIFYING ON MONDAY."

Trump was often defiant and combative when he testified on November 6.

He sparred with the judge and slammed New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is suing him. Trump defended his wealth and denied wrongdoing.

When he was questioned by the state lawyers who are suing him, he often responded with lengthy diatribes.

Trump's verbose answers irked the judge, who repeatedly asked Trump to keep his answers short.

"This is not a political rally," the judge said.

Had Trump returned to the stand on Monday, his defence lawyers would have led the questioning, but state lawyers could have cross-examined him.

James sued Trump last year over what she claimed was his pattern of duping banks, insurers and others by inflating his wealth on financial statements.

The judge ruled before the trial that Trump and other defendants engaged in fraud.

He ordered that a receiver take control of some Trump properties, but an appeals court has paused that.

The judge is now considering six other claims, including allegations of conspiracy and insurance fraud.

James seeks penalties of more than $US300 million ($A456 million) and wants Trump banned from doing business in New York.

In recent days, Trump had been insistent on testifying again, one of his lawyers said, even though some of his previous visits to the courthouse as a spectator have resulted in him getting fined for disparaging the judge's law clerk.

The lawyer, Alina Habba, said she had discouraged Trump from taking the stand because of the gag order that is in place.

The same gag order was also in effect when he testified in November.

Australian Associated Press