Former President Donald Trump has once again attracted the nation's attention as he took the stand in a New York courtroom on Monday.
Trump was testifying as part of a civil fraud lawsuit brought against him by the New York Attorney General Letitia James, a process marked by sharp exchanges between Trump and the presiding judge.
The lawsuit, filed by James last year, accuses Trump of fraudulent business practices, including inflating assets and defrauding banks. Trump, steadfastly denying any wrongdoing, has painted James as a "political hack" with intentions purely political in nature.
James' pursuit of Trump began during her 2022 campaign for Attorney General, promising to "get Trump" if elected. Following her campaign promise, she filed a civil lawsuit against Trump and his family businesses in November 2022.
The trial, which started on Monday, has already seen its fair share of tension. Trump's long-winded answers during his testimony led to Judge Arthur Engoron expressing visible frustration.
Yet, despite the heated courtroom exchanges, legal experts suggest that the trial's outcome may already be predetermined. Trump's testimony, they argue, is unlikely to sway the judge's decision.
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, likened the anticipation surrounding Trump's testimony to the start of a NASCAR race. People, he suggests, are more interested in the spectacle than the substance.
"Trump being called for testimony is like waiting for the green flag at NASCAR" in that many "are coming for the car crashes," Turley observed.
Interestingly, rather than tarnishing his public image, Trump's ongoing legal battles have increased his popularity. This phenomenon has led to speculations about a potential re-election bid from Trump.
Despite the courtroom drama, legal expert Andy McCarthy suggests that Trump's combative testimony won't significantly affect the case's outcome. According to McCarthy, the decision has already been "decided."
"The judge and state’s attorney general are elected Democrats. The judge is going to do what he’s going to do regardless of Trump’s testimony."
The trial continues, with the outcome likely to impact Trump's ability to conduct business in New York. But, as Turley points out, the legal battles have only bolstered Trump's popularity among his supporters. "The fact is that these cases have only increased Trump's popularity," Turley noted.
Trump has consistently dismissed James' investigation as politically motivated. He accused her of using the lawsuit to further her political career, first as Attorney General and later as Governor. "They're trying to hurt me – especially her, for political reasons," Trump stated in reference to James.
As the trial progresses, it is clear that this legal battle goes beyond just the courtroom. It represents a larger political narrative that continues to divide the nation.