Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal on Sunday said former President Donald Trump faces a “Hobson’s choice” when he takes the stand in his civil fraud trial in New York this week.
Trump could answer the questions or plead the Fifth when he’s grilled in the $250 million lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who alleges Trump routinely overvalued assets for financial gain, Katyal told MSNBC’s Jen Psaki. But “both are a problem,” he said.
“The case for [Trump] taking the Fifth Amendment is he’s basically going to perjure himself one way or another if he takes the stand,” said Katyal.
Trump is “known for giving meandering testimony,” which could get him into serious trouble, Katyal continued. But if Trump doesn’t testify in the civil trial, then under New York state law his silence could be read “to be the absolute worst.”
“I can’t imagine having a client like this,” Katyal said.
Fellow guest and former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann agreed.
Trump could be grilled on black-and-white issues — such as why he overvalued his Mar-a-Lago resort and overexaggerated the size of his Manhattan apartment — that “will be extremely hard for him to come up with a consistent theory that’s not going to get him into a lot of trouble,” said Weissmann.
Weissmann explained how prosecutors could “go big” with their questioning by asking Trump about the criminal cases against him to prove he’s a known liar. Weissmann suggested Trump would take the Fifth if the questions related to the criminal cases.
“He’ll be forced to answer strategically because if he doesn’t answer, this whole case is over,” he added.
Watch the discussion here: