Former US President Donald Trump speaks to members of media at New York State Supreme Court in New York, US, on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023. Trump is facing off against New York Attorney in a contentious civil trial that threatens his control over his real estate empire Image Credit: Bloomberg

Seated in the grandeur of the New York Supreme Court, the former US President, Donald Trump, took centrestage at the witness box on Monday, delivering bombshell revelations under oath.

With arms defiantly crossed, he unleashed a four-hour rollercoaster of claims — from flat-out denials of allegations to boasts about his Scottish golf oasis described as “unbelievable.”

The courtroom spectacle was laced with blistering attacks on the state attorney general and the judge, offering a tantalising preview of what’s to come in Trump’s series of high-stakes court battles strewn across 2024, a pivotal US election year where he’s eyeing a return to the presidential spotlight.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump is questioned next to Judge Arthur Engoron, during the Trump Organization civil fraud trial in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., November 6, 2023 in this courtroom sketch. Image Credit: REUTERS

Trump’s day in court was as predictable as his towering real estate empire: out-of-the-box and undeniably controversial.

In a showdown reminiscent of his past campaign rallies, the former president’s larger-than-life courtroom drama unfurled in a blaze of accusations, targeting officials, and decrying what he labelled a relentless “political witch hunt.”

Trump’s high-octane courtroom performance provided a glimpse into his potential demeanour in the imminent criminal cases, when he ignited clashes with Judge Arthur F Engoron.

There was courtroom theatrics and the explosive revelations. The drama, the defiance, and the unfiltered Trump spectacle is expected to continue.

Here are the key takeaways from Trump’s courtroom showdown:

Campaign-Style rhetoric

Trump’s testimony echoed his rally-like rhetoric, targeting the attorney general, judge, and denouncing the ongoing “political witch hunt.” His charged language escalated as he directly confronted the judge, Arthur F Engoron, sitting mere feet away, stating, “The fraud is on the court, not on me.”

Clash with the judge

Judge Engoron’s attempts to rein in Trump’s speechifying fell short as Trump continued his approach. The judge warned of removing Trump from the witness box, emphasising, “This is not a political rally,” urging Trump’s attorney to rein in his client’s behaviour.

Acknowledgement of property valuation changes

Trump faced probing questions from the attorney general’s office regarding changes in property valuations, notably the Trump Tower triplex, devalued after a Forbes article revealed exaggerated apartment size. Trump conceded occasional valuation mistakes.

Trump’s property descriptions

Beyond defending himself, Trump utilised the courtroom as a sales pitch for his properties. Disputing valuations, he emphasised Mar-a-Lago’s worth, stating it was far more valuable than records suggested, estimating its value to range between one and one-and-a-half billion dollars.

Avoidance and tangential responses

Trump continuously evaded direct responses to questions, diverting discussions on accounting documents and property valuations toward praising his properties or criticising the judge and prosecutors’ alleged biases, in an attempt to shape the narrative to his advantage.

Trump is embroiled in five significant probes

• Manhattan DA’s Probe: Allegations of falsifying business records linked to hush money for Stormy Daniels.

• Classified Documents Case: Suspected illegal removal of classified files from the White House and obstructing investigations.

• Jan. 6 Inquiry: Investigations into allegations of incitement to insurrection, election fraud, and fraudulent fundraising pre-Jan. 6.

• Georgia Election Investigation: Suspected unlawful actions to overturn the 2020 election loss in Georgia.

• NY State Civil Case: Accusations of Trump and his children misleading lenders and insurers about the Trump Organisation’s financial status.