According to Mediaite, Elie Honig, CNN’s chief legal analyst, expressed his dissatisfaction with former President Donald Trump’s testimony during his civil fraud trial in New York. Trump faced questioning from state attorneys regarding the alleged inflation of asset valuations within the Trump Organization, an accusation Attorney General Letitia James has leveled, claiming it was an attempt to defraud banks and insurance companies. Judge Arthur Engoron had previously supported this claim, granting a partial summary judgment in September. The Attorney General is seeking $250 million from Trump and the revocation of his business licenses.
In defense, Trump stated that he had relied on his accountants for the valuation of his company’s assets. However, his interactions with the judge and his verbal attacks on James during the proceedings highlighted the contentious nature of the trial. Despite Trump’s claim that the day had gone well, Elie Honig, during an episode of The Source, offered a differing perspective.
Reflecting on the events in the courtroom, Honig remarked on the chaotic atmosphere and the lack of substance in Trump’s defense. He pointed to crucial moments during Trump’s testimony that appeared to work in favor of the attorney general’s case.
In particular, Trump’s decision to uphold the inflated valuation of Mar-a-Lago at $1 billion, doubling down on the already contested $500 million value, was seen as a surprising legal strategy. Additionally, while attempting to distance himself from the valuations, Trump inadvertently admitted to having reviewed and provided input on the financial statements, a moment that Honig highlighted as pivotal for the attorney general’s team.
Honig concluded by characterizing Trump’s testimony as contradictory and messy, but also acknowledged that certain aspects of it could serve as useful evidence for the Attorney General’s case.
Elie, there was so much chaos in that courtroom today, it was, kind of, unbelievable,” host Kaitlan Collins said. “But there were key moments where Trump seemed to have acknowledgments or admissions that could be helpful to the attorney general’s case.”
“Yeah, so, through all the drama and the spectacle, this really was a debacle in substance,” he said before elaborating:
And there were a couple of key moments that stood out to me where Donald Trump really made important concessions. First of all, one of the things I was wondering going in is, is he gonna defend these valuations? Is he gonna say, “No, we actually got it right when we said Mar-a-Lago was worth $500 million”?
Turns out, he literally doubled down. He said, “No that’s actually worth a billion dollars,” which is a surprising legal tactic. The other thing he did was, he simultaneously tried to distance himself from the valuations. He said, “We’re gonna bring in the very big bankers.” Ok, I guess he’s saying these people from Mazars, these accountants are gonna come in and explain it.
But at another really key point, to me, the most important sentence of the day, Trump said something like, “I saw those statements, I reviewed them, and at times I gave input.” And it was a quick little moment, but that’s something that I think the AG’s office is gonna latch onto because he acknowledges he knew them and knew enough to give input into those statements.
Honig concluded, “I think his testimony was inherently contradictory and a mess, but there’s some real useful pieces in there for the AG’s office.”