The judge presiding over Donald J. Trump’s civil fraud trial disrupted the former president’s plan to speak on his own behalf during closing arguments this week, the latest clash between Mr. Trump’s political aims and American legal norms.
Mr. Trump, who considers himself his own best spokesman, had planned to address the court during the closing arguments on Thursday. But the judge, Arthur F. Engoron, imposed limits on the former president that one of his lawyers called unacceptable.
The judge said in a recent email exchange with Mr. Trump’s lawyers that while he was predisposed to allow Mr. Trump to speak, the former president would be barred from delivering “a campaign speech” and could not attack the judge, the judge’s staff members or New York’s attorney general, whose suit against Mr. Trump led to the trial.
Those conditions may have nullified Mr. Trump’s purpose in speaking. As he mounts another run for the White House while facing the civil trial and four criminal indictments, Mr. Trump has sought to transform his legal liabilities into political assets, casting his accusers as enemies of democracy and their cases as a coordinated witch hunt.
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