Former President Donald Trump was allowed to speak at the end of closing arguments in his civil fraud trial on Thursday, taking direct aim at New York Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron.
The move can a day after Engoron said Trump would not be allowed to speak after his attorney Chris Kise failed to agree to certain limitations on what his client could say.
Engoron had said he would allow it, on the condition that Trump agreed to limit his subject to what is permissible in a counsels closing argument, that is, commentary on the relevant, material facts that are in evidence, and application of the relevant law to those facts.”
After nearly three hours of closing arguments from defense attorneys on Thursday, Kise again asked that his client be allowed to speak. Engoron asked if he would abide by the stated limitations, but Trump deflected and began to speak anyway.
Well, I think, your honor, that this case goes outside just the facts. The financial statements were perfect, the banks got back their money and are happy as can be, Trump said.
When you say don’t go outside of these things, we have a situation where I’m an innocent man, I’ve been persecuted by someone running for office and I think you have to go outside the bounds, Trump said, referring to James.
Trump said the attorney general incorrectly used a statute designed to target consumer fraud.
This is a fraud on me. What’s happened here, sir, is a fraud on me, Trump said, adding that he never had a problem before running for president. You have your own agenda, you can’t listen for more than one minute, this has been a persecution, Trump told the judge, who directed Kise to control your client.
By the way, you said you’ve never had a problem. Haven’t you been sued before? Engoron asked.
Your honor, look, I did nothing wrong. They should pay me for what we had to go through, Trump said.
James has argued Trump and his companies should pay $370 million in penalties for a long-running financial fraud in which they allegedly falsified financial statements to gain favorable loan terms, insurance policies, and enhance their reputation
Prosecutors also requested that Trump, Weisselberg and McConney be banned for life from participating in the real estate industry in New York, and from serving as officers or directors of New York companies. The AG also called for five-year bans on Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.
TMX contributed to this article.