Trump seems to get cold feet about testifying in New York hush money trial: ‘I would if it’s necessary’

Donald Trump appears to be getting cold feet about taking the stand to testify in his criminal hush money trial, after he previously insisted that he would “absolutely” do so.

The former president called in to Newsmax on Thursday night after the conclusion of day seven of his historic trial, where he was asked by anchor Greg Kelly about his intentions to testify in his own defence based on what he had seen of the proceedings so far.

“Well I would if it’s necessary,” Mr Trump answered.

He continued: “Right now, I don’t know if you heard about today. Today was just incredible. People are saying – the experts, I’m talking about legal scholars and experts – they’re saying, ‘What kind of a case is this? There is no case.’

“Uh, you know they had David Pecker, testifying today. And he was, you know, people are saying there’s no case. There’s literally no case!”

Mr Trump went on to cite conservative lawyers Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Turley and Mark Levin to back up his baseless insistence that the legal establishment is almost entirely in agreement with him about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg having no case against him.

Mr Bragg charged the former president with 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to suppress allegations of an affair ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Mr Trump’s comments about testifying were much more reticent than his previous statements on the matter.

Speaking at Mar-a-Lago earlier this month – just three days before jury selection got under way in the case – he told reporters: “Yeah, I would testify, absolutely. That’s not a trial. That’s a scam.”

So far in the trial, jurors have heard from testimony from David Pecker, former publisher of tabloid giant The National Enquirer, who has described a months-long scheme to “catch and kill” embarrassing stories about Mr Trump’s alleged affairs.

Former US president Donald Trump exits Trump Tower to attend his hush money criminal trial on 26 April 2024 (Reuters)
Former US president Donald Trump exits Trump Tower to attend his hush money criminal trial on 26 April 2024 (Reuters)

Mr Pecker testified that the agreement drawn up in the weeks after Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign launch was designed to boost the latter’s chances of winning the presidential election.

He testified that he vowed to be the “eyes and ears” of the Republican’s campaign, going beyond what he called “chequebook journalism” to give Mr Trump a direct line to a media apparatus to influence the outcome of the 2016 vote.

That included the purchase of a false story from a former Trump Tower doorman who alleged the candidate had fathered an illegitimate child with a maid and the acquisition of a story from former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who planned to go public with her allegations of a months-long affair.

On Thursday, Mr Pecker testified that then-president Trump had later thanked him for handling Ms McDougal’s contract and “the doorman situation” after he entered the White House.

Elsewhere in Mr Trump’s interview with Newsmax, he also retreated from his notorious “Lock her up!” catchphrase about Hillary Clinton – claiming he didn’t really want to see his 2016 presidential rival behind bars but claimed he had “opportunities” to make it happen.

He also characterised himself as a martyr to the cause of stopping “election interference” and argued New York City should be tackling violent street crime rather than prosecuting him.