Former U.S. President Donald Trump announced in a social media post he will not take the stand as a witness in his own defense as expected when his civil fraud trial resumes on Monday. Photo by Louis Lanzano/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Former President Donald Trump abruptly changed course on Sunday, declaring that he would not testify in his own defense as expected in his ongoing $250 million civil fraud trial in New York.
In a post Sunday on his social media platform Truth Social, the former president reversed himself on his plans to testify in his own defense.
"I have already testified to everything & have nothing more to say other than this is a complete & total election interference (Biden campaign!) witch hunt" so "I will not be testifying on Monday," Trump wrote, according to NBC News and the New York Times.
Trump's lawyers announced nearly two weeks ago that he would take the stand on Dec. 11 as one the final witnesses for the defense in the bench trial before Judge Arthur Engoron, triggering new legal struggles over a gag order slapped on Trump by the judge.
Monday's testimony was expected to be a bookend to his contentious appearance as a prosecution witness on Nov. 6, when he vehemently denied the state of New York's allegations he improperly inflated the values of some of his real estate holdings as part of a decades-long scheme to defraud banks and investors.
During that appearance, Engoron attempted to rein in Trump's long-winded and oft times off-topic responses on several occasions.
The expectation that the former president would testify again led him to seek an expedited appeal of Engoron's gag order, but that bid was turned back by the state's highest court last week, leaving the order in place.
"There is really nothing more to say to a Judge who has imposed an unconstitutional gag order and thus far appears to have ignored President Trump's testimony and that of everyone else involved in the complex financial transactions at issue in the case," Trump attorney Chris Kise said in a statement issued to CNN.
He denounced what he called New York Attorney General Letitia James' "rabid and unreasonable pursuit of President Trump, obviously intent on driving profitable businesses out of New York. Under such circumstances, there is no valid reason for President Trump to testify further in this case."
Trump and his family are accused by James of vastly inflating the values of their properties. She is seeking at least $250 million in restitution.
Engoron ruled in September during the first phase of the trial that Trump indeed fraudulently inflated the values of his real estate properties, granting a partial summary judgement in the case to James.
The Trump civil business fraud trial will end with closing arguments in the new year as Engoron decides the remaining issues and the punishment.
Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media when he arrives for the opening of his civil fraud trial in New York City on October 2, 2023. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo