Trump defies judge, speaks on tense last day of New York civil fraud trial.

New York — At the end of his New York civil fraud trial Thursday, Donald Trump unleashed a six-minute tirade until the judge cut him off. Trump made his own summation and ignored the judge's query about whether he would observe trial-related speech guidelines, an unusual action for any defendant.

“I am an innocent man,” Trump said. "Someone running for office is persecuting me, and I think you have to go outside the bounds." Judge Arthur Engoron let him finish a brief personal summary before interrupting for lunch.

Trump's untelevised in-court remarks assured a chaotic last day for a trial on claims that he systematically inflated his wealth on financial documents, misleading banks and insurance firms into handing him golden deals. Engoron wanted a ruling by Jan. 31. He is determining the matter because state law prohibits juries in this sort of dispute.

In 2022, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump under a state statute that grants her sweeping powers to probe commercial crimes. She wants the judge to fine Trump $370 million and exclude him from New York.

Hours after officials reacted to a bomb threat at the judge's suburban New York City home, the conversations increased tension. Court proceedings began without delay, and Engoron did not raise the scare.

Trump has criticized Engoron throughout the trial, accusing him of cooperating with James in a Wednesday night social media tweet. Both she and Engoron are Dems. Court ruling came days before the Iowa caucuses on Monday to start the presidential primary season.

Engoron denied Trump's extraordinary request to provide his own closing statements in court alongside his legal team's summaries. Trump's attorneys refused to comply with the judge's order to keep to “relevant” subjects and not present new evidence, make a campaign speech, or criticize the judge, James, or the judicial system.

After three Trump attorneys gave customary final statements Thursday, Christopher Kise asked the court again whether Trump might speak. Engoron requested Trump to follow the rules.

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