Former President Trump’s attorney Alina Habba claimed Friday that her client will take the stand Monday in his civil fraud trial, despite the judge’s gag order and discouragement from his legal team.
“I will say and I still say that having any client get on a stand with a gag order as limited or large as this is a First Amendment violation,” Habba argued in an interview with Fox News’s Martha MacCallum. “And you should not respect the court and give them the opportunity to hear you.”
“But, he is going to take the stand regardless, and he will navigate it,” she added.
The attorney explained that while she didn’t want to block the former president from speaking on his behalf, he wouldn’t be able to give his testimony “fully and completely” under the gag order, which bars Trump and his counsel from speaking about the staff of the judge overseeing the case.
“I would never discourage the former president from testifying, because quite honestly, our plan up until now was to have him testify, he always wanted to testify and he should testify,” Habba said. “When he has nothing to hide, it’s the best thing you could do is put this great witness on that is going to stand up and tell you the truth.”
An appeals court issued a brief pause on the gag order in mid-November, after Trump’s legal team filed an emergency suit against Judge Arthur Engoron, whom they argued casted “serious doubt” on his ability to remain partial in the case as he enforced the order. The order was reinstated last week, blocking the president from railing against Engoron or his clerk without facing penalties.
Habba railed against the judge, who ruled in September that Trump was liable for fraud, reiterating what she told the judge earlier this week: “We need a directed verdict, meaning that they have not proven their case.”
“They’ve closed their case, we are now putting on our case, and they cannot prove that we did anything wrong,” she told MacCallum. “Quite the contrary, all they’ve proven is that President Trump is worth a lot more than his financial condition. And if he wanted to inflate it, he would have put his brand alone — which is worth billions and billions and billions of dollars. But he didn’t because there was no fraud.”
“We are seriously in a dual system of justice and a banana republic where we were already found guilty of something we didn’t do before we walked into court,” she added.
The case was brought against the former president by New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office, who accused Trump, his business and several executives — including his two adult sons — of falsely inflating and deflating the value of his business’s assets to receive lower taxes and better insurance coverage.
Trump is expected to take the stand Monday as the defense’s final witness.