Trump Explains Decision Not to Testify in Hush-Money Trial, Criticizes Legal System

On Wednesday, Donald Trump explained why he chose not to testify in his criminal hush-money trial, despite previously asserting that he “absolutely” would.

Trump’s attorneys rested their defense on Tuesday in the case where he faces 34 felony counts for falsifying business records related to a $130,000 payment to silence porn star Stormy Daniels about their alleged affair. Contrary to his earlier statements, Trump did not take the stand.

In an interview on WABC Radio, Trump attributed his decision to the judge presiding over the case, Juan Merchan. Merchan has had to keep Trump in check multiple times, even threatening jail time after fining him for violating a gag order.

Last month, Merchan ruled to restrict the topics Trump could discuss if he testified, though he allowed discussions of other civil cases involving Trump, such as E. Jean Carroll’s defamation cases and Letitia James’ civil fraud case.

“He made rulings that make it very difficult to testify,” Trump said of Merchan. “Anything I did, anything I did in the past, they can bring everything up, and you know what, I’ve had a great past—but anything.”

Despite his initial promise to testify, Trump seemed to change his stance on May 2, claiming incorrectly that he was “not allowed to testify.” Merchan clarified the next day in court: “I want to stress, Mr. Trump, you have an absolute right to testify at trial if that’s what you decide to do after consultation with your attorneys.” A few days later, Trump told ABC News, 1 Wisconsin that he would “probably” testify.

However, on Wednesday’s WABC interview, during his weekly break from the trial, Trump criticized the New York legal system, calling it a “horror show” and blaming “rigged judges” and a “rigged system.” He added, “The other reason is because they have no case. In other words, why testify when they have no case? They finished… They have no crime, there’s no crime. They have no case, it’s a corrupt system.”

Trump also complained about the gag order against him, accusing the White House of orchestrating a secret plot to undermine him.

In the same interview, Trump repeated claims about illegal immigrants, alleging they are coming into the country from prisons and mental institutions with “very contagious diseases” such as tuberculosis, without providing evidence. According to the Daily Beast, the U.S. has one of the lowest TB rates globally, and most U.S. residents are at minimal risk.

He also claimed that immigrants are arriving from various regions worldwide, not just South America, including Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and China, often “speaking languages we don’t even know about.”