Trump Offers Unconvincing Reason Why He Didn’t Testify at Hush-Money Trial

Mark Peterson via Reuters
Mark Peterson via Reuters

Donald Trump on Wednesday provided his reasoning for not testifying at his criminal hush-money trial—despite claiming just a month ago that he “absolutely” would.

On Tuesday, Trump’s attorneys rested their defense in the case against the former president, who faces 34 felony counts for falsifying business records related to a $130,000 payment to keep porn star Stormy Daniels quiet about their alleged affair. Trump, however, did not end up testifying.

In an interview on WABC Radio, Trump echoed what has become a daily refrain, claiming he didn’t take the stand because of the judge handling the case. The judge, Juan Merchan, has repeatedly been forced to keep Trump in line, including threatening the former president with jail time after issuing a series of fines for violations of his gag order.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks after a break during his hush money trial at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, U.S., May 21, 2024.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks after a break during his hush money trial at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, U.S., May 21, 2024.

Michael M. Santiago via Reuters

Last month, Merchan also issued a ruling cracking down on the topics Trump could discuss if he was to take the stand—though he declared that the other civil cases Trump has been involved in, including E. Jean Carroll’s two defamation cases and a civil fraud case brought by Letitia James, were fair game.

“He made rulings that make it very difficult to testify,” Trump said of Merchan. “Anything I did, anything I did in the past, they can bring everything up, and you know what, I’ve had a great past—but anything.”

Despite initially promising to testify, Trump did appear to walk back his comments on May 2 when he incorrectly claimed that he was “not allowed to testify.”

Merchan clarified the next day in the courtroom: “I want to stress, Mr. Trump, you have an absolute right to testify at trial, if that’s what you decide to do after consultation with your attorneys.”

Days later, Trump said he would “probably” testify in an interview with Spectrum News 1 Wisconsin.

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But on WABC Wednesday, his weekly day off from the trial, Trump decried the “rigged judges” and “rigged system” in New York, describing it as a “horror show.”

Trump added: “The other reason is because they have no case. In other words, why would, why testify when they have no case? They finished... They have no crime, there’s no crime.”

He added, “They have no case, its a corrupt system.”

He once again complained of the gag order against him, accusing the White House of being behind a secret plot to take Trump down.

Elsewhere in the interview, Trump decried illegal immigrants, repeating claims that they are coming into the country directly from prisons and mental institutions “with very contagious disease[s].”

The 77-year-old cited tuberculosis as one of the pathogens immigrants have brought with them into the country, without citing any evidence. According to the CDC, the U.S. “has one of the lowest TB rates in the world and most U.S. residents are at minimal risk.”

He continued by listing off a series of places that have seen immigration to the United States.

“They’re not just coming from South America, they’re coming from Africa, the Congo is sending a lot of people... they’re coming in from Asia,” Trump said. “They’re coming in from all over. They’re coming in from the Middle East, Yemen... they’re coming in as you know from China... they’re pouring in... they’re speaking languages we don’t even know about... I mean it’s crazy.”

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