Bragg wants to cross-examine Trump on civil cases in hush money trial

If former President Trump chooses to testify in his hush money trial, New York prosecutors want to cross-examine him about his various civil lawsuits.

In court papers signed last month but not made public until Wednesday, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s (D) office said it would seek to question Trump about 13 court rulings against him or his businesses to impeach his credibility.

The list runs the gamut of Trump’s recent civil cases, referencing his recent business fraud trial that ended in a nearly half-billion-dollar payout, gag order violations and jury verdicts. Trump’s lawyers have indicated they oppose prosecutors’ request.

Trump has signaled an openness to testifying in his hush money trial, which unlike those past civil lawsuits is a criminal case.

But doing so would mark a rare step for a criminal defendant. Prosecutors cannot force him to testify, and each selected juror has committed to the judge that they won’t hold it against Trump if he doesn’t.

Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the trial, will hold a hearing later this week to determine the proper scope of prosecutors’ cross-examination of Trump. Known as a Sandoval hearing, the ruling is designed to help Trump’s legal team make an informed decision about whether to have him testify.

In the newly public court papers, Bragg said he wants to raise the $354 million penalty Trump was ordered to pay after a New York judge found he conspired to alter his net worth for tax and insurance benefits, writing Trump “repeatedly and persistently” falsified business records, issued false financial statements and conspired to commit insurance fraud.

The Manhattan district attorney also intends to highlight Trump’s violations of a gag order in that case, which barred him from publicly talking about any court staff. The former president racked up $15,000 in fines for skirting the judge’s directive, and when Trump was asked to take the stand to explain himself, the judge determined that his testimony “rings hollow and untrue.”

Prosecutors said they would also seek to question Trump about the jury’s verdicts in two lawsuits brought by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll. One jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll in the 1990s, and a subsequent jury ordered Trump to pay $83.3 million for defaming her by denying her story when she came forward.

A series of other past cases were also noted: the New York attorney general’s case against the Donald J. Trump Foundation and a lawsuit Trump lodged against Hillary Clinton that ended with him being sanctioned and ordered to pay nearly $938,000 in legal fees.

The list also included a criminal fraud case against the Trump Organization, which Merchan oversaw; the former president’s business was convicted of the same charge Trump himself now faces.

In his current trial, which is the first criminal trial of a former president, Trump is staring down 34 counts of falsifying business records, stemming from a hush money payment his ex-fixer, Michael Cohen, made to an adult film actress ahead of the 2016 election. He has pleaded not guilty.

Jury selection is ongoing, and the judge has projected opening statements will begin Monday.

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