Former president Donald Trump has been known to tell the odd fib on occasion – but lying on the witness stand is something else entirely.
Well, that’s what he appeared to do on Monday, as he told prosecutors he was too “busy in the White House” to be involved in preparing his 2021 financial statements.
You might remember that was the year when a certain Joe Biden had already succeeded him as president, so it seems like something’s gone awry with that defence.
Asked whether he was involved in valuing his properties in 2021, Trump told prosecutor Kevin Wallace: “I was so busy in the White House. My threshold was China, Russia, and keeping our country safe.”
Wallace said: “Just to clarify, you weren't president in 2021, correct?”
Trump, clearly realising the error of his ways, replied: “No, I wasn't.”
The ex-president took the stand on Monday for his $250m civil fraud trial in New York. The case also involved hearing testimonies from his two eldest sons the previous week.
Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and the Trump Organization are co-defendants in the civil case brought by New York attorney Letitia James.
Should the prosecution be successful, the Trump family could be barred from ever running business in the state again.
The Trump organisation did not respond to an initial request for comment.
Even before the trial began last month, judge Arthur Engoron found Trump liable for “persistent and repeated” financial fraud.
Now, the process will determine what penalties the family will have to pay. It will also address the other claims of falsifying business records, issuing false financial statements, insurance fraud and conspiracy.
Despite the seemingly abject situation, Trump was combative when he took the stand, ranting against James and Engoron and dodging prosecutors’ lines of questioning.
That included telling the attorney general she should be “ashamed of herself” for bringing a “political witch hunt” against him.
These sort of statements will clearly play well with his base – but whether they convince the court is another matter.