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Trump finally offers explanation for why he backed out of testifying in hush money trial

Donald Trump has finally offered some sort of explanation as to why he has backtracked on plans to take the stand to testify in his hush money trial.

For weeks, Mr Trump flirted with the idea of ​​standing to address his accusers in court, vowing he would “absolutely” take the stand just days before the criminal trial began on April 15.

When the time came, however, Mr Trump did not take the stand. Instead, the defense rested its case on Tuesday after calling just on two witnesses including attorney Robert Costello.

Now, Mr Trump has claimed that the reason he didn’t take the stand because of the judge – and over fears that his “great”, although checked, could come back to haunt him.

“He (New York Justice Juan Merchan) made rulings that make it very difficult to testify,” Mr Trump said in an interview on WABC Radio on Wednesday evening.

“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 nothing.”

Former President Donald Trump speaks alongside his attorney Todd Blanche outside the courtroom in Manhattan Criminal Court on May 21 (AP)

He added: “The other reason is because they have no case. In other words, why would – why testify when they have no case?”

Mr Trump is charged with falsifying business records over alleged hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels to silence her over an alleged affair ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

He denies the affair and has pleaded not guilty to all 34 criminal counts against him.

Whether he came to the decision not to testify on his own accord or following the advice of his lawyers is not clear.

Back on 12 April, Mr Trump told reporters that he “would testify, absolutely”.

“I mean, all I can do is tell the truth. And the truth is that there’s no case, they have no case,” he added.

Then, after seven days of sitting in Manhattan’s criminal court, Mr Trump elicited a watered-down response, saying he would take the stand “if it’s necessary”.

Mr Trump continued to then toy with the idea.

Robert Costello was cross examined by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger before Justice Juan Merchan (REUTERS)

While he has refused to speak about the case under oath, Mr Trump has repeatedly railed against the case in public, lashing out in daily comments to reporters in the hallways of the courthouse.

Mr Trump previously took the stand on his own during defense of his civil fraud trial in New York last year.

But rather than answering questions directly, he seized on the opportunity to discuss his personal feelings about the case.

Legal experts told The Independent on Monday that Mr Trump taking the stand in his hush money triral would be an “act of near-insanity”.

“We have all seen Trump in action. “We have all seen his inability to stick to a ‘party line,’” criminal defense lawyer Tony Wyatt told The Independent on Monday.

“Donald Trump is a cross-examiner’s dream, and while he would never admit that to himself, his lawyers must know it,” he added.

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