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Former US president Donald Trump. Alamy Stock Photo
New York

Judge rules Donald Trump will not give closing speech in civil fraud trial

Both legal teams will begin to give closing arguments in the trial tomorrow.

THE JUDGE IN Donald Trump’s New York fraud trial has withdrawn permission for the former US president to give a closing argument as the case concludes, court filings showed today.

Trump stands accused of fraudulently inflating the value of his properties and New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking $370 million (€337 million) from him as well as to have him barred from conducting business in the state.

Both legal teams will begin to give closing speeches tomorrow.

Lawyers for Trump, who has repeatedly attacked the judge and attorney general for alleged bias, had indicated he would extraordinarily present a closing argument on his own behalf.

But in an exchange of emails between Judge Arthur Engoron and Trump’s legal team, Engoron said that if the ex-president wished to speak “he will agree to the limitations I have imposed” – sticking just to the facts of the case.

Trump’s legal team called this “very unfair” in a reply, insisting that Trump be allowed to “speak about the things that must be spoken about.”

In response, Engoron told the Trump side to “take it or leave it”, following up that as Trump had apparently not agreed to the terms, “he will not be speaking in court tomorrow.”

‘I did nothing wrong’

Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, and his two eldest sons are accused of fraudulently inflating the value of real estate assets to receive more favorable bank loans and insurance terms.

The $370 million requested by state attorney general James is linked to the “wrongdoer’s unlawful profits,” her office said in a filing.

“The myriad deceptive schemes they employed to inflate asset values and conceal facts were so outrageous that they belie innocent explanation,” it said on Friday.

The amount to be paid will be determined by the judge and will be released in his final decision and order, for which no date has yet been confirmed.

Trump repeatedly took to social media during the case, saying it was “decided against me before it even started.”

In one post on his Truth Social platform, he lashed out at James, calling her “totally corrupt” and saying “I did nothing wrong.”

“My financial statements are great and very conservative,” he said. “This case should never have been brought.”

Trump’s lawyers rejected any notion of fraud, arguing that real estate valuations are subjective and the banks lending to his organization had not lost any money.

© AFP 2024