Trump Says He'll Testify in Upcoming Criminal Trial

‘I’m testifying, I’ll tell the truth,‘ President Trump said. ’I always tell the truth, and the truth is they have no case.’
Trump Says He'll Testify in Upcoming Criminal Trial
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump during a joint press conference with Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) at Mr. Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on April 12, 2024. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Catherine Yang

During a joint press conference on April 12 with House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), former President Donald Trump said he would testify at his upcoming criminal trial in New York if called to do so.

“I’m testifying, I'll tell the truth,” President Trump said. “I always tell the truth, and the truth is they have no case.”

In a previous press conference, President Trump said he was willing to testify but had added that he expected the trial to be delayed past the April 15 trial date. After three back-to-back rejections from the appellate division of the New York Supreme Court to stay the trial pending appeals, the case is set to go to trial Monday.

Jury selection begins on April 15, and on April 12 the defense raised some objections to the judge’s questions for the jurors, wanting to drill down on those who have a negative view of the presumptive Republican nominee.

During the press conference, President Trump pointed out he has a pending appeal on the judge’s rejection of his motion to move the trial out of Manhattan.

“Jury selection is largely luck. It depends who you get. It’s very unfair that I’m having a trial there [in Manhattan],” President Trump said.

He also criticized New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, calling him politically biased. The defense has twice requested that the judge recuse himself from the case, and the judge has already declined to step down once.

“It’s very unfair that we have this judge that hates Trump and has this tremendous conflict,” President Trump said. “Nobody can believe this judge isn’t recusing himself, the conflict is at a level that nobody’s ever seen before.”

President Trump did not detail the arguments for recusal, as a new gag order presumably would prevent him from doing so. Defense attorneys had argued that the judge’s daughter has a stake in a political consultancy that has received millions of dollars from anti-Trump candidates who are fundraising with messaging about the upcoming trial. A recent court order prohibits President Trump from speaking about family members of the judge.

President Trump said that legal scholars have said there is “no case” here, referencing commentary from experts who have generally characterized the Manhattan case as the weakest of the four criminal indictments the former president faces. In New York, he is being charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records.

“Even you people said, ‘Oh gee, it’s too bad this is the first one,’” he told reporters.

Typically a misdemeanor in New York, the falsifying business records charge is upgraded to a low class felony if it is done to conceal another crime, and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has alleged that President Trump did so to conceal “hush money” payments to influence the 2016 election cycle. Prosecutors claim that President Trump paid his former attorney Michael Cohen, the key witness in the case, $130,000 to hide an alleged affair. Defense attorneys claim payments made to Mr. Cohen were attorney’s fees.

President Trump maintained he did nothing wrong and that all four cases against him are part of a political “witch hunt.”

He claimed the prosecutors were working at the behest of President Joe Biden, who is losing in the polls.

“The whole thing is a disgrace and it’s a disgrace to our nation,” he said.

It is an open question whether any of President Trump’s three other cases will go to trial before November elections.

In Georgia, he has been charged along with 14 others in a racketeering case for their actions in challenging the 2020 elections. Prosecutors have requested an August trial that is estimated to last at least four months, and legal counsel for President Trump have argued that it would be clear election interference to hold the trial in the lead up to the presidential elections.

In Florida, President Trump faces 40 counts related to alleged mishandling of classified documents, and the trial was originally set for May 20. After discovery turned out to be more voluminous and complex than initially predicted, the judge indicated she may reset deadlines. However, codefendants of President Trump had demanded a speedy trial, and if the case cannot go to trial by May 20 it may have to be resolved for them without trial.

Prosecutors recently blasted the judge in a court filing for “inject[ing] substantial delay” to the trial scheduling, to which the judge responded in subsequent orders noting that prosecutors have contributed to this delay by making requests to file motions outside of the set schedule.

In Washington, President Trump faces four counts of obstruction and conspiracy for his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, and the case is heading to the Supreme Court on appeal of a pretrial motion to dismiss the case based on presidential immunity.

It’s a defense President Trump has raised in his other cases, and the Supreme Court decision is likely to impact each of his other three criminal trials to some degree.

Catherine Yang is a reporter for The Epoch Times based in New York.