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Trump Will Take the Witness Stand Today

Donald Trump has called NY AG Letitia James "racist" and "deranged." Today he will get to address her in person, via her lawyers, at his civil fraud trial in Manhattan. They have a couple of questions for him that he will have to answer. Under oath. Before a no-nonsense judge who will determine if his business empire will be fined at least $250 million and banned from doing business in New York State. That result would be the end of the Trump Organization.

Trump surely understands this and may well lash out at James, Judge Arthur Engoron, Engoron's clerk, and who knows who else. He has been told by his lawyers a dozen times not to do this, but he is terrible at controlling himself. And James and her staff are very good at pushing his buttons. Trump is deeply enraged by the trial, probably more so than by any of the four criminal trials he faces. It strikes at his very being—the brilliant businessman who became a billionaire through his business acumen. If James shows the judge that, no, he earned his money mainly by lying and cheating banks, insurance companies, and tax authorities, Trump could go bonkers.

Testimony in a court under oath will take Trump far outside his comfort zone. He loves lying on social media. Lying under oath is a felony. If James shows him documents with wildly conflicting valuations of the same property at the same time and calmly asks him to explain, he could explode and start calling her names. Engoron is not going to tolerate that. Trump is not a good witness and is incapable of following his lawyers' instructions. He goes with his gut. That works well at rallies of the faithful, but not so well with experienced judges. And this one has already fined him twice for attacking his clerk.

Last week, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump testified. They were dismissive of the whole proceeding but didn't offend the judge or say anything harmful to the case. Today could be a whole new ball game, with a far less stable and more argumentative witness. And next up is Ivanka (see below). (V)

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