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Friday, December 8, 2023

As Cohen Testifies, Choose Who Set Trump Gag Order Considers Extra Punishment


The choose presiding over the civil fraud trial of Donald J. Trump on Wednesday signaled that he would possibly once more punish the previous president for violating a gag order that bars Mr. Trump from attacking court docket workers.

The choose, Arthur F. Engoron, has already fined Mr. Trump for feedback he made about his legislation clerk, Allison Greenfield, whom the previous president was barred from discussing after he attacked her on social media within the trial’s opening days.

Throughout a break within the proceedings on Wednesday, Mr. Trump referred to as Justice Engoron partisan — which is allowable beneath the order. However he continued, saying, “with an individual who’s very partisan sitting alongside him. Even perhaps rather more partisan than he’s.”

After the break, the choose stated he was involved that the overheated setting within the courtroom may lead to actual hazard.

“I’m very protecting of my workers,” Justice Engoron stated, including, “I don’t need anybody to get killed.”

A lawyer for Mr. Trump, Christopher M. Kise, protested that the previous president had really been referring to his former fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who was testifying for a second day. Mr. Trump did clearly discuss with Mr. Cohen instantly after the preliminary remark, calling him a “discredited witness.”

The choose responded that the goal of the feedback had appeared clear to him, however that he would take the matter beneath advisement. When he fined Mr. Trump $5,000 final week, an quantity that on Wednesday he referred to as “minimal,” he issued a written order explaining his determination after the trial had ended for the day.

That violation was one thing of a technicality: Although the feedback about Ms. Greenfield had been deleted from social media, they’d additionally been posted to Mr. Trump’s web site and weren’t taken down for weeks.

In contrast, Mr. Trump made his assertion Wednesday to reporters within the corridor outdoors the courtroom, the place he sometimes addresses tv cameras. It demonstrated the hazard of the gag order to a former president recognized for spontaneous monologues by which he assaults his enemies.

After court docket broke for lunch, Justice Engoron held Mr. Trump and his legal professionals within the courtroom for about 25 minutes. When Mr. Trump emerged, he denied violating the gag order and stated that his earlier feedback had not been about Ms. Greenfield. However he refused to make clear them, avoiding additional questions from reporters.

The trial, which stems from a lawsuit filed towards Mr. Trump by the New York legal professional normal, Letitia James, facilities on the previous president’s annual monetary statements, the place he listed his internet value.

Mr. Cohen is chief among the many former president’s enemies. He as soon as labored as a fixer for Mr. Trump. However after breaking with the then-president in 2018, Mr. Cohen testified earlier than Congress that the monetary statements had been crammed with fraudulent values, which had been calculated to succeed in Mr. Trump’s desired total internet value.

He stated the identical factor on his first day of testimony on the trial on Tuesday, when questioned by a lawyer from the legal professional normal’s workplace. He additionally spoke about his involvement in offers by which Mr. Trump’s annual monetary statements — the place the fraudulent values had been listed — had been used to showcase the previous president’s wealth and monetary energy.

The sudden drama on the midmorning break interrupted legal professionals for Mr. Trump as they tried to impugn Mr. Cohen, with Mr. Kise calling him a “perjurious witness who has lied to everybody he’s ever spoken to.”

From the witness stand, Mr. Cohen clashed with one other of Mr. Trump’s legal professionals, Alina Habba. She urged that Mr. Cohen had been inconsistent in his descriptions of his work on the monetary statements. For instance, she famous that he stated in a deposition that he had labored on “virtually each asset,” whereas on the trial, he stated that he had labored on a restricted quantity.

She then moved on to questioning Mr. Cohen’s total credibility, introducing proof from earlier than 2018 by which Mr. Cohen praised Mr. Trump and a textual content message he had despatched about his curiosity in changing into the White Home chief of workers.

Mr. Cohen’s relationship with Mr. Trump, for whom he as soon as stated he would take a bullet, soured after federal prosecutors started to research a 2016 hush cash cost to a porn star that he made on Mr. Trump’s behalf. Mr. Trump started to distance himself from his former fixer, and, finally, Mr. Cohen turned on him, and started to talk with prosecutors who had been trying into the then-president’s conduct.

Mr. Cohen’s testimony has energized the trial, which has lasted three weeks. Justice Engoron has already dominated that Mr. Trump dedicated fraud by inflating the worth of his properties to obtain higher therapy from banks and insurance coverage corporations.

The trial will decide whether or not the previous president’s conduct and that of different defendants, together with two of his grownup kids and his firm, violated different legal guidelines, and whether or not he has to pay a monetary penalty. Ms. James has requested that he be fined $250 million.

As a result of the central declare of the trial has already been determined, there was little day-to-day drama, aside from that injected by Mr. Trump’s frequent visits to the courthouse — and his free-ranging feedback within the hallways, the place he made the remark that on Wednesday might have brought on him extra hassle.


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