Oct 4, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump's unusual New York campout

Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears in the courtroom for the third day of his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 04, 2023 in New York City

Former President Trump appears in the courtroom for the third day of his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on Oct. 4. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Former President Trump has spent an unusual three days camped out at the civil fraud trial against him and his business empire.

Why it matters: He's rarely in one place, focused on one topic, for multiple days.

  • Trump's made his mountain of legal woes central to his 2024 presidential campaign — seizing on the ongoing fraud trial and making his voluntary appearances at the Manhattan courthouse an extension of the campaign trail.
  • "I'd rather be right now in Iowa. I'd rather be in New Hampshire or South Carolina or Ohio or a lot of other places," Trump said on Wednesday.

Driving the news: Trump has repeatedly turned up before TV cameras stationed outside the courtroom to deride the trial, in sometimes violent terms, as a "witch hunt" from politically motivated prosecutors.

  • He turned to his Truth Social account over and over again to criticize the trial, dispute the judge overseeing the case and slam New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed the $250 million lawsuit last year.
  • The judge overseeing the case imposed a gag order after Trump attacked a law clerk on social media.

The other side: James slammed Trump's attendance at the civil trial as a "political stunt."

  • "Mr. Trump is no longer here. The Donald Trump show is over. This was nothing more than a political stunt, a fundraising stop," she said outside the court.

Between the lines: The New York civil fraud trial is an anomaly for the former president, who's notorious for veering off on tangents.

  • Trump, who faces 91 criminal counts across four jurisdictions, has largely limited his in-person court appearances to ones that are required.
  • He has already indicated that he will testify at "the appropriate time" in the civil fraud trial.

What we're watching: When Trump will show up at the courthouse again.

  • He left the trial during a lunch break today to return to Mar-a-Lago, according to CNN. He didn't indicate when he'd be back in New York.

Go deeper: How Trump commands the narrative of his own legal woes

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