Trump is ‘likely’ to attend his civil fraud trial Thursday

    Former President Donald Trump will “likely” attend the trial in the $250 million civil fraud case against him Thursday, a source familiar with his plans told NBC News.

    His lawyer Chris Kise had also floated the possibility on Monday, telling reporters, “I believe that I’ve received notification that he’ll be here on Thursday.”

    ABC News first reported that Trump will likely attend his civil fraud trial Thursday. He is expected to testify Monday as the defense’s last witness in the case.

    Trump last testified on Nov. 6 as a witness for New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office, which is suing the Trumps and the Trump Organization for allegedly inflating financial statements by billions of dollars. His adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, and his daughter Ivanka Trump also testified in the case.

    Trump is again skipping the Republican presidential primary debate Wednesday night. He is instead expected to host a closed-door fundraiser in Florida during the debate, according to two sources familiar with the matter. It marks the first time he will not hold a public counterprogramming event during the debates, which he has skipped.

    On Tuesday, the day before the debate, Trump will participate in a town hall event with Fox News host Sean Hannity in Iowa, a Republican official with knowledge of the plans told NBC News.

    Trump will testify in his defense in the civil fraud trial, his attorneys said in court last week. Eric Trump is scheduled to take the stand Wednesday, according to Chris Kise, Trump’s lead attorney in the civil fraud case.

    Trump’s testimony last month quickly went off the rails as he lashed out against the judge and lawyers in the case, whom he decried as “unfair.” He sidestepped questions and repeatedly went off on tangents. Trump also sparred with Judge Arthur Engoron from the stand after Engoron chided him for giving nonresponsive answers. Engoron urged Trump’s lawyers to “control him” and warned that “this isn’t a political rally.” 

    Trump has repeatedly complained about the judge and his law clerk, and the lack of a jury in the trial. Trump has accused James and Engoron of engaging in an election interference effort amid his presidential campaign and denied that he had inflated property values.

    “He rambled, he hurled insults, but we expected that,” James said after Trump concluded his testimony last month. She said the evidence shows Trump inflated his financial statements to enrich himself and his family and predicted that “justice will be served.”

    After the conclusion of his testimony last month, Trump told reporters inside the courthouse, “I think it went very well,” and that he showed what a “scam” the case was. “I think it’s a very sad day for America. But anyway, this is a case that should have never been brought and it’s a case that should be immediately dismissed,” he said. 

    Engoron issued a partial gag order on Trump in October after the former president made disparaging public remarks about his law clerk. He was fined twice for violating the gag order. Engoron later expanded the gag order to include members of the former president’s legal team after he said they made “on the record, repeated, inappropriate remarks” about his principal law clerk.

    Trump’s lawyers have appealed the gag order, but a state appeals court in New York reinstated it last week, arguing that it was necessary because of the “deluge” of threats directed at the law clerk after the former president renewed his attacks on her on social media.