Donald Trump Getting ‘Wrong’ Advice from Lawyer Alina Habba: Ex-Prosecutor

Former federal prosecutor Shan Wu doesn’t understand why Donald Trump‘s attorney Alina Habba went on Fox News last Friday and said she doesn’t want her client to take the stand on Monday.

In an appearance with host Amara Walker on CNN‘s This Morning Weekend, Wu was asked what he expected from Trump in Judge Arthur Engoron’s courtroom as he defends himself in the $250 million financial fraud trial.

The former president is accused of filing fraudulent financial statements inflating the value of his New York properties for years. Engoron has already ruled that Trump committed fraud while filing his financial statements. The upcoming proceedings will now mainly determine the size of the penalty against Trump and his real estate company.

Wu told Walker, “A lot could go wrong; he’s a bad witness for everybody, he meanders a lot when he’s on direct, he meanders a lot on cross, if he gets hostile on cross that’s not a very good look for him. It is a bench trial, it could be less damaging than before a jury, and it may mean nothing because the judge has already decided the important parts of the case.”

He then mentioned Habba’s Friday appearance on Fox where she told host Martha MacCallum that she advised Trump to boycott appearing and that he is ignoring that advice.

Trump lawyer Habba with media
Former President Donald Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba talks to the media outside the New York State Supreme Court on December 07, 2023 in New York City.
James Devaney/GC Images

Wu laughed when he said, “First of all, usually, you don’t get in front of the cameras and say what you advise the client—it’s kind of privileged.”

Wu continued, “Second of all, it seems wrong. I mean, no one is going to find he violated a gag order by testifying. I mean: apples and oranges. The gag order is don’t talk about the trial outside of the courtroom, not that you’re not allowed to testify. So it just seems odd.”

When asked what he would advise Trump to say when he takes the stand, Wu said he would tell the former president to “lean into” the statements made by New York University Stern School of Business research professor Eli Bartov.

On Thursday, Bartov told the New York court that there is “no evidence whatsoever” that Trump or his family committed fraud with their financial documents. On Friday, it was revealed that Bartov was paid $1,350 an hour for his services, and that he worked about 650 hours on the case to defend the former president, putting his total at $877,500.

“I would say, lean into the statements of the expert that I paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to say there was no fraud that was committed,” Wu said.

Newsweek has reached out to Wu and Habba for additional comments via email.