Donald Trump claimed to be too busy “saving millions of lives” from a nuclear holocaust as president to be able to also run his company, specifically not to be able to commit business fraud.
A transcript released on Wednesday of a sworn deposition from April this year revealed the outlandish argument in Mr Trump’s attempts to defend himself against fraud charges in New York state.
A lawyer for New York Attorney General Letitia James, Kevin Wallace, asked Mr Trump, “So you were too busy for the company?” according to the transcript of the deposition, which lasted seven hours, according to Insider.
“In a way, yeah,” Mr Trump said of his time starting with his initial campaign for president, which began in the summer of 2015. “Yeah, I think you can say it. It’s another way of saying it. I was very busy. I was — I considered this the most important job in the world, saving millions of lives.
“I think you would have nuclear holocaust if I didn’t deal with North Korea. I think you would have a nuclear war, if I weren’t elected,” Mr Trump said. “And I think you might have a nuclear war now if you want to know the truth.”
Mr Trump made the claims as he attempted to put some distance between himself and the attorney general’s arguments that the Trump Organization inflated the value of its assets to cut costs on bank loans, insurance, and taxes.
The office of the attorney general claims that since 2011, the company overstated its assets’ value by between $812m and $2.2bn in a single year.
Mr Trump claimed to have had “virtually” no role at the firm since he ran for president.
“My son Eric is much more involved with it than I am,” he said. “I’ve been doing other things. And I guess you could say on something major, whatever. But I’ve been much less involved in it than — over the last five years, five or six years than ever before.”
Eric Trump said in a March deposition that Mr Trump was no longer active in the daily running of the company.
During his presidency, Mr Trump’s assets from the Trump Organization were moved to a trust managed by Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr, as well as Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer who then ended up with legal issues of his own related to tax violations. He was convicted of tax fraud in 2022. Eric Trump said in the deposition that Mr Weisselberg is no longer a trustee at the company.
Eric Trump said in March that Mr Trump was “focused on doing something much larger than the Trump Organization”.
“Is he involved in the, you know, in the day-to-day operations of the organization? He might be involved in something that he cares about,” he added, noting that his father was focused on his golf courses.
“Maybe he’s at one of the golf courses and he wants to redesign a green or something like that because he’s a golf fanatic and loves it,” he said. “But for all intents and purposes, no, he’s not sitting in that position and he largely relies on Don and I and other executives to run a nice business.”
The transcripts were released on Wednesday as part of the civil fraud lawsuit between Mr Trump and the state of New York. Last year, Mr Trump was sued, as were his two oldest sons, and two former executives.
The Trump legal team has repeatedly rejected all wrongdoing on behalf of Mr Trump.
“If you look at Biden, he certainly does business and politics at the same time. But I felt I wanted to be a legitimate president,” Mr Trump said in his deposition.
“I was virtually not involved at all” from 2015, he claimed.
“I’d rarely have anything to do with anything having to do with the company,” he added. “I really wasn’t interested, believe it or not.”
“I was interested in solving the problem with North Korea, which was ready to blow up, and solving the problems we had with China, who was just ripping us off left and right, and making sure that Russia never went into Ukraine, which they didn’t, under our auspices and, you know, a lot of other things,” he said. “There were a lot of things that were happening in the world, as you probably know. And I did a very good job. I got rid of those problems. Today those problems are very prevalent.”