(NewsNation) — Former President Donald Trump sparred with a New York judge and criticized the state’s attorney general Monday as he took the witness stand at his civil fraud trial.
Dan Alexander, a senior editor at Forbes, was in court Monday for Trump’s testimony and watched the chaos unfold. Alexander believes Trump had the intention of maintaining a calm appearance.
“Donald Trump came in and clearly laid out a plan. You know, he was going to play kind of cool, he was going to be a little bit more reserved, you know, calm Donald Trump, he had been coached on this, and this is the idea,” Alexander told NewsNation host Dan Abrams. “But you know, there’s an old boxing saying, ‘everybody’s got a plan until you get punched in the mouth.’”
As the state’s office started running through specific details of the case, Alexander said state Judge Arthur Engoron appeared to want to speed up the process. Alexander thinks this struck a nerve with Trump.
“Trump, you could just see it slowly turn and he got angry. That’s when he started lashing out at the attorney general, calling her a political hack from the stand,” Alexander told Abrams.
Speaking about New York’s Attorney General Letitia James, whose office brought the case against him, Trump said: “I think that she’s a political hack, and I think she used this case to try and become governor, and she used it successfully to become attorney general. I think it’s a disgrace that this case is going on.”
After the former president’s testimony, James said Trump “hurled insults” but that her team “expected that.”
Tensions were also high between Trump and Engoron, who Trump said was biased against him.
“At one point, he’s yelling at the judge. This is not normal behavior in a courtroom,” Alexander explained.
Engoron asked Trump’s attorney: “I beseech you to control him if you can. If you can’t, I will.” At another point, the judge said: “I do not want to hear everything this witness has to say. He has a lot to say that has nothing to do with the case or the questions.”
Engoron determined in a ruling earlier that Trump committed fraud for years while building his real estate empire.
To that, Trump said: “He ruled against me, and he said I was a fraud before he knew anything about me.”
Alexander says the trial boils down to accusations of Trump not telling the truth.
“What the attorney general was trying to show today is that when you want to pump up the value of your assets, you are lying about these key figures that go into that calculation. What are the profitability figures? What is the square footage figures, and those same lies that he was telling to the media were replicated in the financial documents that were sent to banks. And so that’s why from a legal perspective, it’s significant,” Alexander said.
Trump is accused of intentionally inflating property values and deceiving banks and insurers in the pursuit of business deals and loans. He has maintained his innocence. The civil trial is one of multiple legal proceedings Trump faces as he makes his 2024 presidential run.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.