Updated Oct 25, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump day in court sees Cohen testimony and ex-president face $10,000 fine

Former President Donald Trump sits in court during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 25, 2023 in New York City.

Former President Trump sits in court during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on Oct. 25 in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig-Pool/Getty Images

Former President Trump's civil fraud trial in New York on Wednesday saw the GOP presidential frontrunner turn up again, get fined $10,000 and come face to face with his onetime personal lawyer Michael Cohen for the first time in years.

The big picture: Trump's surprise appearance on the witness stand at the Manhattan courthouse coincided with Cohen's second day of testimony against his former boss.

Driving the news: Trump was unexpectedly called to the witness stand to explain comments he made earlier in the day about the judge overseeing the trial's law clerk.

  • Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump to pay $10,000 for violating the gag order, which was issued by Judge Arthur Engoron earlier this month.
  • Trump abruptly left the courtroom Wednesday during Cohen's testimony, shortly after his lawyers asked for a direct verdict from Engoron after Cohen testified Trump never asked him to inflate his net worth.
  • After walking out, the former president said: "The witness just admitted that we won the trial. And the judge should end this trial immediately," per a post on X.
  • Trump returned to the courtroom a few minutes later.

Zoom in: Engoron questioned on Wednesday why he should not impose "severe sanctions" on Trump after he appeared to reference the judge's law clerk.

  • "This judge is a very partisan judge with a person who is very partisan sitting alongside him — perhaps even much more partisan than he is," Trump told reporters during a break, CNN reports.
  • Engoron said that Trump has made "defamatory, disparaging, untrue comments" about the law clerk in the past, which is what prompted his gag order in the fraud trial.
  • "Why should there not be severe sanctions for disobeying a clear court order?" Engoron said Wednesday.

Flashback: Engoron fined Trump $5,000 last week after he learned that a Truth Social post attacking his law clerk remained on Trump's campaign site, despite an order to remove the post earlier this month.

  • Cohen, Trump's onetime personal lawyer, testified Tuesday that he manipulated financial information to reflect "whatever number Mr. Trump told us."

State of play: Cohen is a key witness in New York Attorney General Letitia James' $250 million lawsuit alleging that Trump, his eldest children and the Trump Organization committed years of financial fraud.

  • Cohen, a fixer-turned-foe of the former president, was originally set to testify last week, but postponed it due to a "pre-existing medical condition."

Go deeper: Trump's unusual New York campout

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional developments.

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