Months ahead of Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York, a video of the former president’s seven-hour deposition last April at the office of State Attorney General Letitia James was made public on Friday. The video showcases Trump’s demeanor shifting from calm to indignant, where he criticizes James’ lawsuit as a “disgrace” and “a terrible thing.” Trump, who views the lawsuit as a politically motivated “witch hunt,” expressed frustration at being compelled to “justify myself” after years of building a real estate empire now under threat.
In the video, Trump smirks and pouts as James introduces herself and emphasizes her commitment to a fair legal process. James’ lawsuit accuses Trump, his company, and top executives of defrauding banks and others by inflating his wealth and exaggerating asset values on financial statements.
During the deposition, Trump asserted that James didn’t have a case, contending that the banks allegedly deceived with high valuations suffered no harm and were paid in his deals. He criticized New York authorities for focusing on him rather than addressing violent crime and accused them of putting his ex-finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, “through hell and back.”
Trump repeatedly emphasized the disclaimer on his financial statements, indicating that they shouldn’t be taken seriously. He estimated the worth of his “brand” alone at “maybe $10 billion” and attributed his political success to the ubiquity of his name.
In response to questions about the Trump Organization, Trump claimed he scaled back involvement during his presidency to focus on solving global issues, such as preventing a nuclear attack from North Korea. He argued that he put the organization into a trust to avoid conflicts of interest and maintained it was the most important job in the world.
The video provides a rare glimpse of Trump as a witness, as cameras were not permitted in the courtroom during his November testimony. Judge Arthur Engoron is expected to deliver a ruling by the end of January in this non-jury lawsuit.