When Trump's trial started, I called him a chicken. He refused to testify. I was right.

Just before Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial started in April, I labeled the former president and current criminal defendant a “frightened, clucking chicken.”

I was correct. Despite defiantly saying he would take the stand and testify in his own defense, Trump predictably took the panicked-poultry route. The defense rested Tuesday without calling the man accused of paying off an adult film star to keep quiet about their alleged affair in advance of the 2016 presidential election.

On April 12, the Friday before the trial began, Trump was at Mar-a-Lago and said: “I’m testifying. I tell the truth. I mean, all I can do is tell the truth.”

He didn’t testify. So, in the same sentence in which he said, “I tell the truth,” he was lying. Perfect.

Trump said he would testify. Of course he didn't.

Former President Donald Trump at his trial on May 21, 2024, in New York City, seen here not testifying.
Former President Donald Trump at his trial on May 21, 2024, in New York City, seen here not testifying.

Despite ranting ad nauseam about how a legitimate gag order was keeping him from defending himself, Trump ran from his No. 1 opportunity to put forth that defense in the courtroom, leaving behind a cloud of dust, feathers and hypocrisy.

If the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee had any guts, he’d admit that I and the multitude of others who knew he was too much of a poltroon to ever testify were right. But he won’t. He’s too busy clucking about all the ways he’s being persecuted.

Trump's fans believed their man would take the stand

Surely, Trump's supporters will be let down by this show of non-strength.

On April 20, a confident Trump fan said on a pro-Trump online outlet: “The man wants to get up there, look those jurors in the eyes, and fight. That’s what he does. ... He’s gonna get up there, say what he has to say, fight to his very last breath.”

Or, going back in time and playing the devil’s advocate, he won’t. He will quite literally do none of those things.

MAGA pays respect to their king: All Republicans MUST attend Trump's criminal trial and yell at media. These are the rules.

On Monday, Trump attorney Alina Habba, who isn’t representing him in the Manhattan trial, said on Fox News: “We know he wants to testify. He's willing, he's able, he (has) nothing to hide it all. He's absolutely ready to tell the truth.”

Of course he was ready to tell the truth! Trump just decided not to because when the Lord was handing out courage, he was getting extra helpings of BUK-BUK-BUK-BAGOCK!!

A false vow to testify, then complaint after complaint

Look, there were no sensible legal minds suggesting it would be a good idea for Trump to take the stand in this, or any, trial. He’s a rambling loudmouth who lies reflexively, and the prosecution would feast on him.

Is Trump sleepy? Trump isn't sleeping during his trial – he's just STRONGLY complying with the gag order

But aside from saying he'd testify, Trump went to great lengths to gripe incessantly outside the courtroom about the entirely sensible limited gag order he was under – the one that (sort of) got him to stop intimidating witnesses, jury members and the judge’s family.

Trump clearly never understood what a gag order is

On April 19, outside the courtroom, Trump whined: “Everyone else can say whatever they want about me. They can say anything they want. They can continue to make up lies. ... They lie. They're real scum.”

“I’m unconstitutionally gagged,” he crowed at a rally in early May. “He gagged me, so I’m not even supposed to be talking to you – because he gagged me!”

On May 14, outside the courtroom, Trump brayed: “The gag order has to come off. So when you ask me a question about the people that we’re talking about, I’m not allowed to answer. There’s never been anything like this in the history of our country.”

The big, bold, brave GOP savior sure does gripe a lot.

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Trump could have testified – it was his big chance to speak his 'truth'

It all led up to the moment when Trump could have testified in court, when he could have answered questions under oath and sans gag order, when he could have put his money where his prodigious mouth is. And what did he do? He clammed up and said nothing.

All the blabber and bluster was a sham. It was the realization of Shakespeare’s words, “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Trump tried relentlessly to delay this trial rather than get in the ring and fight. He complained like an overtired toddler throughout. He brashly said he’d testify, then he didn’t.

To quote myself from more than a month ago, Trump is, indeed, a “frightened, clucking chicken.” Tough talk, loud cluck, soft feathers.

Prove me wrong.

Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on X, formerly Twitter, @RexHuppke and Facebook facebook.com/RexIsAJerk

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump defense rests without him testifying in Manhattan trial. Weak.