Former President Donald Trump said he will take the witness stand in New York Attorney General Letitia James' $250 million civil lawsuit "at the appropriate time."
Trump is on the witness lists of both his defense and James' prosecution.
"Yes, I will" testify at the trial, Trump said in remarks during the lunch break at Day Two of the trial Tuesday, "at the appropriate time, I will be.
"I think it's going very well."
"There was absolutely no fraud," Trump said, rebuking James as corrupt. "They all made money. They're all happy, 100% happy."
Trump repeated his earlier morning remarks about the "buyer beware" disclaimer at the end of the financial statements.
"It says, 'Please, you must understand that you have to do your own due diligence and you have to, above all, do your own research and analysis: Do not rely on anything; do not rely on the financial statements,'" Trump added. "Also, the financial statements are very strong in terms of cash liquidity and everything else.
"This case is a scam. There can't be fraud when you've told institutions to do their own work. This case is a fraud and scam."
In the courtroom, Judge Arthur Engoron set the record straight about a comment that the ex-president had touted as an important victory.
Engoron had suggested Monday that testimony about Trump’s 2011 financial statement might be beyond the legal time limit applicable to James' lawsuit. It alleges that Trump and his business chronically lied about his wealth on financial statements given to banks, insurers and others.
The relevant statute of limitations rules out claims related to activities before a date in 2014, and Trump's legal team has argued that the time limit cuts off most of the case.
Engoron said Tuesday that "statutes of limitations bar claims, not evidence" and at the trial's early stage, he's inclined to give both sides considerably leeway to connect older evidence to claims in the lawsuit.
"I want to emphasize: This trial is not an opportunity to relitigate what I have already decided," Engoron said.
He ruled last week that all the claims were allowable under the statute of limitations.
A lawyer for James' office, Kevin Wallace, went on to suggest he was using the 2011 document to show Trump's financial statements were prepared in the same manner — giving him and his company the final say over the valuations that appeared — for at least a decade.
Donald Bender, an accountant who prepared the financial statements for years, testified Trump's company supplied the numbers that went into the documents. Each spreadsheet was marked "PBC," for "prepared by client," in big, red letters, Bender said.
Trump, who denies any wrongdoing, said during a court break that he thought the trial was "going very well." He reiterated key points of his defense, including that the financial statements bore disclaimers saying that they weren't audited and that others "might reach different conclusions" about his financial position if they had more information.
"This case is a scam. It can't be fraud when you’ve told institutions to do their own work," Trump in his lunch break remarks.
After Monday's sometimes fiery opening statements, Tuesday's testimony was so plodding Bender twice let out a long breath on the stand.
Trump plans to testify later in the trial, but he does not have to attend it now. While grumbling he would rather be on the campaign trail, the Republican former president and 2024 GOP front-runner has used the waiting cameras in a courthouse hallway as a tool for his political messaging. He claims James, a Democrat, is using the justice system to persecute him and hobble his election campaign.
The non-jury trial concerns six remaining claims in the lawsuit and how much Trump might owe in penalties. James is seeking $250 million and a ban on Trump doing business in New York. The judge has already ruled that some of Trump's companies should be dissolved as punishment.
Trump's lawyers said the financial statements were legitimate representations of the worth of unique luxury properties, made even more valuable because of their association with Trump.
The trial is expected to last into December.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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