The former president appeared at a New York court on Monday to testify in his civil fraud trial
A judge in New York took Donald Trump to task on Monday, telling the former president's attorneys to "control him" as he began lashing out during his fraud trial.
"I beseech you to control him if you can," Judge Arthur Engoron said to Trump's legal team. "If you can't, I will. I will excuse him and draw every negative inference that I can."
Trump's testimony in court Monday comes as part of a fraud case brought against him and senior executives at his company by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
James has accused the former president — with the help of his adult children and the executives mentioned in the filing — of falsely inflating his net worth by billions of dollars in an effort to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms and to obtain other economic and tax benefits.
One such alleged inflation, James has argued, is 77-year-old Trump and his company's valuation of his members-only Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, which Trump has pegged in court filings at between $426.5 million and $612.1 million. A Palm Beach County assessor appraised Mar-a-Lago's market value to be between $18 million and $27.6 million — at least 2,300 percent less than what the former president has claimed.
In a 35-page ruling issued in September, Judge Engoron wrote that the inflation of Mar-a-Lago's worth "can only be considered fraud" — a description Trump himself took issue with on Monday.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports that, during Monday's proceedings, Trump attacked the judge, saying, “He called me a fraud and he didn’t know anything about me … It's a terrible thing you’ve done. You know nothing about me. You believe this political hack back there, and this is unfortunate."
Elsewhere in the proceedings, the judge chided Trump for his lengthy answers to questions, saying: "Please just answer the questions, no speeches," BBC reports.
Trump later told the court: "I'm sure the judge will rule against me because he always rules against me," to which Engoron responded, "You can attack me in whichever way you want, but please answer the questions."
While the judge has already ruled that the company committed fraud, the trial has yet to determine what the penalties will be. James is seeking to make Trump pay $250 million in fines, ban the family from operating any New York businesses in the future, and ban the former president and the Trump Organization from buying commercial real estate in New York for five years.
James' office said in a press release that "from 2011-2021, Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization knowingly and intentionally created more than 200 false and misleading valuations of assets on his annual Statements of Financial Condition to defraud financial institutions."
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Last week, Trump was fined $10,000 by the judge in the case for violating a gag order during a break in the hearing when he spoke to reporters outside the courthouse.
Since leaving office in 2021, the former president has been mired in a number of legal issues and investigations on various fronts, including into his political conduct and business affairs.
Four of those investigations have led to indictments — the first one making him the only U.S. president to face criminal charges, and the next two further distinguishing him as the only president to face federal charges.
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