Former President Donald Trump dashed out of the courtroom with Secret Service agents in tow in the midst of his former lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen’s, testimony Wednesday in his New York civil fraud trial, NBC News reports. The dramatic exit came after the former lawyer took the stand himself in a surprising twist in the case.
Trump attorney Cliff Roberts requested a directed verdict in response to Cohen stating that he did not recall Trump or co-defendant Alan Weisselberg directing him to inflate the numbers on his personal statement, but New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron denied it. Trump then immediately rose from his seat and stormed out of the room with Secret Service agents chasing after him, an unexpected move that even appeared to surprise his legal team. Gasps could be heard throughout the courtroom.
“Unbelievable,” Trump repeatedly muttered.
The former president did return a short time later, walking back into the room with lawyer Alina Habba. Robert again asked the judge for a directed verdict, to which Engoron quipped, “Absolutely not. There’s enough evidence in this case to fill the courtroom.”
Trump’s interruption came shortly after Engoron fined him $10,000 for violating a gag order barring him from making inflammatory comments about court staff. The former president had taken the stand for around a minute and was asked about statements he made outside the courtroom, referring to the judge and someone else as “partisan.” Trump said he was referring to Cohen and not Engoron’s court clerk, whom he had been sanctioned $5,000 for criticizing previously. After the judge asked if Trump always refers to Cohen by name and his lawyers interjected that the former president uses far worse language to refer to him, Engoron determined that he didn’t find Trump credible and levied the fine.
Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung told NBC News that the GOP frontrunner would go to the airport from the courthouse at the conclusion of Wednesday’s proceedings.