Donald Trump’s legal team kept up its high-risk strategy by launching a bitter personal attack on the New York attorney general, after a bruising day in court that saw the former president and his advisers repeatedly chastised by the judge in his $250million civil fraud trial.
Trump’s attorney Alina Habba delivered a scathing verdict on Letitia James, who brought the case, during a TV appearance. ‘She’s just not that bright. I’m sorry, I have to say and I’ve seen their case,’ Habba said on Newsmax, hours after leaving court. ‘I’ve seen their lawyers. They don’t know what they’re talking about.’ Earlier she described Judge Arthur Engoron as ‘unhinged’ for slamming the table during the former president’s testimony and ‘yelling’ at her to sit down. It came during an extraordinary day in court as Trump took the stand.
He was repeatedly warned not to treat the court like a rally audience, as he took personal jabs at a judge he claimed was biased against him and at the state attorney general, whom he derided as a ‘political hack.’ ‘This is the opposite of fraud,’ he said, turning the allegations around to James. ‘The fraud is her.’ The civil trial in New York is just one of the legal proceedings facing Trump as he runs for president again. Judge Engoron has already ruled that he committed fraud, inflating his net worth as he built his real estate empire, and the trial is about setting penalties.
Habba said there were multiple ways to assess the value of properties and that prosecutors were picking the lowest ones to make their case. ‘Just because a bank, who’s giving you a loan, says it’s worth what the loan amount is, which is what happens when anybody takes a loan out, they’re never going to say the real value,’ she said ‘They’re going to say what they want to say and not a penny more or what the loan amount is and not a penny more. It is not worth it to them to do that. That’s not what they do. ‘She needs to educate herself.’
Hours earlier, she stood outside court and claimed Judge Engoron believed Trump committed fraud before ‘we even walked into this courtroom’. Trump is accused in the $250million civil fraud trial in New York of inflating his net worth and property values in order to secure loans on favorable terms. During a break in proceedings Habba stood outside the court building and railed against the judge, describing his face ‘going red’ when Trump was on the witness stand. She accused the judge of wanting to ‘silence’ Trump during his answers to questions about his business empire and the value of Mar-a-Lago. ‘Why exactly am I being paid as an attorney and why exactly are taxpayer dollars being used in this courtroom,’ Habba fumed as she claimed Judge Engoron had already jumped to conclusions.
She also accused New York Attorney General Letitia James of trying to ‘make a name for herself’ by calling Trump a ‘liar’ and bringing the case against him. Habba then recounted the moment she was scolded by Judge Engoron during a tense opening to the former president’s testimony. ‘You have a right to hire a lawyer who can stand up and say something when they see something wrong,’ she said. ‘But I was told to sit down today. I was yelled at and I’ve had a judge who is unhinged slamming a table. I don’t tolerate that in my life, I’m not going to tolerate it here. And you know what, you shouldn’t either.’
The lawyer added: ‘I’m seeing such a demise of (the) American judicial system and democracy’. The judge doesn’t like when President Trump explains what actually happened because it’s not good for his narrative.’ She said the judge ‘clearly has an issue’ and ‘if you’ve seen his behavior with me, his behavior with the president today, he has a clear issue with facts that are not good for the case. ‘He (the judge) is clearly enraged, his face is red, he is – he came in hot, and he doesn’t know how to handle him (Trump).’
Habba spoke moments after Trump delivered another series of blistering attacks on James and the judge in very combative testimony. The furious 77-year-old singled out James, who is sitting in the front row of the court, and accused her of being a ‘political hack’ who brought the case against him to help her failed bid to become New York governor. Trump became animated and audibly frustrated as he attacked James and the judge during confrontations about the property values and net worth he is accused of inflating by billions.
The frontrunner in the Republican presidential race also pointed at the judge and berated him for calling him a ‘fraud’, even though he ‘didn’t know anything about me’. Trump told the court: ‘He (judge Engoron) said I’m a fraud because I didn’t value my property correctly. He’s the one who didn’t rule my property correctly.’ The former president also claimed the true fraud was ‘on behalf of the court’ and insisted he is worth ‘billions of dollars more’ than outlined in the financial statements at he heart of the case.
He is accused of having inflated his net worth in those statements by as much as $6.3billion in order to secure favorable loans. Confrontations dominated parts of Trump’s testimony as he discussed the value of Mar-a-Lago and again tore into the people who had brought the case against him.
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