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A Look at Donald Trump’s Deposition: Challenge, Hijacking and ‘World’s Hottest Brand’

NEW YORK — In new public testimony, Donald Trump boasts of building a multi-billion dollar brand and saving “millions of lives” as president.

He argues with the New York Attorney General who is suing him for fraud, telling Letitia James “this whole thing is crazy” and accusing his staff of trying to trip him up like TV lawyer Perry Mason.

Trump gave seven hours of sworn testimony in April in the trial of James, who accused the Republican and his company of defrauding banks, insurers and others with annual financial statements that inflated the value of his assets and increased his net worth by more than $2 billion. in some years.

Trump’s lawyers released a transcript of his testimony in a series of court filings on Wednesday, ahead of a possible trial in October.

Here are the highlights:

Trump called James’ trial a “terrible thing,” telling him and his team “you don’t have a case.”

He insisted that the banks he says were cheated with high valuations suffered no harm, were paid as part of his deals and “to date have no complaints”.

“Do you know that the banks have made a lot of money? asked Trump. “Do you know I don’t believe I’ve ever received even a notice of default and even during COVID the banks have all been paid. And yet you are suing on behalf of the banks, I assume. It’s crazy. This whole thing is crazy.

Banks “want to do business with me because I’m rich,” Trump told James. “But you know what, they’re petrified of doing business because of you.”

Trump lamented that New York authorities “spend all their time investigating me, instead of ending violent crime in the streets.”

He said they sent his recently jailed ex-chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, “through hell” for dodging taxes on company-paid benefits.

“Now I have to come and justify myself to you,” growled Trump.

Trump said he never thought his financial statements “would be taken very seriously” and that people who did business with him were warned enough not to trust them.

Trump described the statements as “a pretty good compilation of properties” rather than a true representation of their value. Some figures, he noted, were “estimates”.

Trump claimed the statements were primarily for his use, although he admitted that financial institutions sometimes request them.

Even then, he insisted it didn’t matter legally whether they were accurate or not, as they came with a disclaimer.

“I have a clause in there that says, ‘Don’t believe this statement.’ Go out and do your own thing,” Trump said. “You’re not supposed to give any credence to what we say. »

Trump has estimated that his “brand” alone is worth “maybe $10 billion.”

He called him “the most valuable asset I have” and attributed his political success to the ubiquity of his name and personality.

“I became president because of the brand, okay,” Trump said. “I became president. I think it’s the hottest brand in the world.

After Trump was elected, he placed the Trump Organization in a trust overseen by his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.

Trump claimed he did so not because it was necessary, but because he wanted to be a “legitimate president” and avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Plus, Trump said, he was busy solving the world’s problems, like stopping North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un from launching a nuclear attack.

“I considered it to be the most important job in the world, to save millions of lives,” Trump testified. “I think there would be a nuclear holocaust if I didn’t take care of North Korea. I think there would be a nuclear war if I weren’t elected. And I think you could have a nuclear war now, if you want to know the truth.

Trump’s oft-verbose testimony was a 180-degree reversal from the approach he took when James called him in for questioning in August 2022 – before his trial or one of four criminal charges against him. are not brought.

In that first deposition, Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and his refusal to answer questions more than 400 times. Trump said he did so because he was sure politically motivated prosecutors would use his answers as the basis for criminal charges.

In April, Trump changed his mind and answered even simple questions with such length that his interrogator, James’ deputy Kevin Wallace, suggested he was trying to run out of time.

“Chris, we’ll be here until midnight if your client answers all questions with an eight-minute speech,” he told one of Trump’s lawyers, Christopher Kise.

Trump, however, seemed aware of the risk of going on and on.

Midway through one of his lengthy responses, describing the grandeur of one of his golf courses, Trump said, “You’re going to let me go on, hoping I make a mistake. And that’s OK. It’s like that. Perry Mason. Perry Mason.

Trump testified at the Manhattan Attorney General’s Office, across from 40 Wall Street – a skyscraper labeled “The Trump Building” in big gold letters.

When asked how the building is doing financially, Trump replied, “Good. It’s here. Would you like to see it?”

“I don’t think we’re allowed to open the windows,” Wallace said.

“Open the curtain,” Trump suggested.

“No,” Wallace said.

“Open the curtain, go ahead,” Trump said. “It’s here. I just looked out the window.

“Can’t you open it?” asked Trump’s lawyer, Clifford Robert, after a moment.

“I wouldn’t,” Wallace said.

Trump has shown his gift for superlatives, uttering the words “beautiful” and “amazing” 15 times each and “phenomenal” six times to describe his properties.

Trump called his golf course in Turnberry, Scotland, “one of the most iconic places in the world”, and the renovated villas at his golf resort in Doral, near Miami, “the most beautiful rooms you have ever seen”.

Trump described his 213-acre estate in Seven Springs, upstate New York, as “the largest home in New York State.”

His golf courses in Aberdeen, Scotland? “Truly unbelievable.” Jupiter, Florida? “An incredible facility. Just outside of Los Angeles? “Amazing property…incredible property…phenomenal property that faces the ocean.”

“I don’t want to sell any of them,” Trump said. “But if I ever sold them – if I ever put some of these things up for sale – I would get staggering numbers.”

He said he could get $1.5 billion for his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and maybe $2.5 billion for Doral.

Trump has suggested he could get “a fortune” from the Saudi-backed LIV golf league for the Turnberry course, a former site of the British Open.

“There would be people who would do anything to own Doral. There are people who would do anything to own Turnberry or Mar-a-Lago or… Trump Tower or 40 Wall Street.


Associated Press reporters Jennifer Peltz and David B. Caruso contributed to this report.


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