What to Watch as Trump Takes the Stand

All eyes on the former president's demeanor as he appears in New York courtroom Monday
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2023 6:22 AM CST
Trump Takes the Stand: 'It's Going to Be a Stunning Moment'
Former President Donald Trump, flanked by defense attorneys Alina Habba, left, and Chris Kise, at his civil business fraud trial at New York Supreme Court, Oct. 25, 2023, in New York.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)

The star witness in the civil fraud case against Donald Trump's business empire takes the stand Monday—Trump himself. Expect the former president to be grilled on relatively mundane aspects of his role in the Trump Organization, including how much he was involved in the preparation of financial statements and in the valuation of owned properties. But that's just the half of it. "It's going to be a stunning moment," presidential historian Douglas Brinkley tells the AP. "This is dramatic enough if he was simply an ex-president facing these charges. But the fact that he is the overwhelming favorite to run the GOP, it makes this a staggering Monday." Things to watch:

  • Demeanor: Trump will be up the there next to Judge Arthur Engoron and the judge's clerk, both of whom he has slammed repeatedly as biased. "It will be interesting to see Trump's demeanor on the stand given how contentious the trial has been thus far," notes the Washington Post. Son Eric, who testified last week, told reporters his father is "fired up" about taking the stand.
  • Campaign event? In its preview, Politico is curious about whether Trump will turn his testimony into a campaign event, perhaps by railing against what he sees as an unjust trial. The judge will surely attempt to restrict political commentary and can have remarks stricken from the record, but that won't stop reporters in the courtroom from reporting on them.
  • The risk: The New York Times reports that Trump is "personally enraged" by this trial, because it goes to the heart of his business success. And while Trump is skilled at channeling such outrage on social media and campaign rallies, the courtroom is obviously a much different venue. "It's a seat that requires care and control, where lying is a crime and emotional outbursts can land you in contempt of court." Also under scrutiny: The 77-year-old's mental acuity. Any slip-ups on all of the above will turn into campaign fodder for Democrats.
(More Donald Trump stories.)

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