Donald Trump stormed out of his $250million fraud trial after a series of legal woes that included him being slapped with a $10,000 fine.
The former US president, 77, was involved in the courtroom drama on Wednesday (25.10.23) after one of his lawyers finished questioning his lawyer-turned-rival Michael Cohen, 57, who testified Trump didn’t direct him to inflate the value of his properties.
Trump had accused the judge and the person “sitting alongside” the lawmaker of being “very partisan” in remarks he made to press earlier in the day.
Judge Arthur Engoron found the comments violated a gag order against Trump speaking about court staff during his civil trial for business fraud.
In an unscheduled hearing, Judge Engoran called the former president to the stand and asked him to explain who he was referring to when he told the press Mr Engoron was a “very partisan judge, with a person who is very partisan sitting alongside him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is”.
Trump replied: “You and Cohen.”
The judge asked if he was “sure” he didn’t mean his clerk, with the scandal-hit former US leader responding: “Yes, I’m sure.”
Before allowing Trump off the stand, the judge said: “As the trier of fact, I find the witness is not credible.”
The dramatic exchange in New York happened in the midst of a civil trial that could see Trump lose some of his most iconic real-estate assets.
Judge Engoron previously ruled the Trump Organization committed fraud, and the current trial is focused on additional charges linked to the accusation.
Before he was fined $10,000, Trump was already under a gag order from Mr Engoron because he had posted disparaging comments about the same clerk in early October.
When he had discovered the comments were still up on Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign website several days later, Mr Engoron had issued a $5,000 fine against the ex-president.