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Maddow Blog | Why Trump said he would testify in his criminal trial, but didn’t

When his criminal trial was about to begin, Donald Trump told reporters to expect him on the stand. “Yes, I would absolutely testify,” the defendant stated. ‘I testify. I tell the truth, I mean all I can do is tell the truth.

The language, which the former president repeated more than once, sounded categorical — which made it all the more striking when Trump and his defense team began hedging last week.

Republican critics, hoping that he would provide testimony that would almost certainly worsen his problems, did their best to persuade him to testify. Third Way even invested in a 30-second ad that concluded, “Take your stand, Donald, or admit you’re a coward.”

It did not work. As my MSNBC colleague Jordan Rubin explained:

It was hard not to wonder if the suspected criminal would explain why exactly he didn’t testify after saying he would. But so far, at least, Trump has shed no light on the subject.

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During a relatively brief question and answer with reporters at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse yesterday, the Republican was asked specifically about his decision not to testify. Trump simply walked away and ignored the question.

The audience is left with a dynamic in which the defendant had a lot to say about the case online, in interviews and outside the courtroom, but when given the chance to tell the jury his side of the story, Trump demurred.

Jurors don’t have to worry about it. Voters, on the other hand, do.

For all the Republican tough talk and chest-thumping, Trump has a problem when it comes to actually following through on his bravado. After declaring, “I testify,” the former president not only failed to keep his word, he also failed to explain why he failed to keep his word.

Following previous reporting, there is no great mystery as to why: Trump would share his side of the story under questioning by his own lawyers, but in the moment he faced prosecutors, the former president was at risk of lying under oath and to lose. his temper, and lashed out wildly, inviting another contemptuous quotation.

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Facing a series of brutal questions about his alleged sexual encounter with Stormy Daniels and his treatment of women probably wouldn’t do him any favors either.

The circumstances are eerily familiar: Trump and his team continue to understand that he can, and often does, get away with public deceptions, but it is much more difficult when he is under oath and faced with the prospect of real consequences.

The former president probably realizes that he will have to endure months of ridicule for “coming out” and breaking another promise, but he also knows that it would have been even worse to step up and help prosecutors.

This message updates our related previous reporting.

This article was originally published on MSNBC.com

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