Trump’s Allies Didn’t Want Him to Testify: ‘The Jury Would Hate Him’

Donald Trump’s defense rested on Tuesday, which means the former president will not be testifying in his criminal hush-money trial. Few would have begrudged Trump for declining to testify, but he promised he would take the stand while suggesting the only thing that prevented him from doing so was his gag order — which is false.

Regardless of Trump’s bloviating about testifying and proving everyone wrong, his allies thought it would have been a horrendous idea. Four people close to the former president recently told Rolling Stone that there would have been essentially no upside in taking the stand. “The jury would hate him, if they don’t all already, and would kill whatever chances he has left of a not-guilty verdict,” a GOP lawmaker said. The sources also stressed that Trump testifying at this trial would have been a humongous gift to prosecutors, who likely could have, among other things, easily baited Trump into lying under oath.

Some of these sources said that Trump has repeatedly asked confidants in recent months if they thought him taking the stand in this case would be a good idea; those sources each said they unequivocally advised the former president that he should not testify.

“Hell, no,” said one lawyer close to Trump who’s known him for years, responding to a question about whether Trump should demand to testify in the Manhattan criminal trial. “Why? Did someone say that’d be a good idea?”

Well, in a way, yes.

Donald Trump did.

“Yeah, I would testify, absolutely,” Trump told reporters in April ahead of the trial. “I’m testifying. I tell the truth, I mean, all I can do is tell the truth and the truth is that there is no case.”

Trump later tempered expectations that he will take the stand — claiming it’s not his fault, though. “I’m under a gag order,” he told reporters gathered outside of the courtroom earlier this month. “I’m not allowed to testify because this judge is totally conflicted — has me under an institutional gag order. Nobody’s ever had that before, and we don’t like it, it’s not fair.”

Judge Juan Merchan clarified in court that the gag order in no way prevented Trump from testifying, and a day later Trump seemed to forget he suggested it did. “No, it won’t stop me from testifying,” he told reporters. “The gag order is not for testifying.”

Trump’s wishy-washy approach to testifying is at least partially due to his ego. One person close to Trump says that even if he didn’t actually want to testify, he wants everyone to know he isn’t scared of doing so. Recently, this source adds, Trump has privately complained about “idiots” who claim he’s fearful of testifying at his Manhattan trial, and has insisted he isn’t afraid to take the stand in this case or others.

The prosecution rested its case on Monday, and Trump indicated Tuesday morning that his team was about to wrap it up, as well. “We’ll be resting pretty quickly, meaning resting the case,” he told reporters. “I won’t be resting. I don’t rest. I’d like to rest sometimes, but I don’t get to rest.”

Trump’s defense minutes later.

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