OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
When former President Donald Trump took the witness stand on Monday to defend himself in a civil fraud case Democratic Attorney General Letitia James brought against his businesses, things got rowdy once more in Manhattan Superior Judge Arthur Engoron’s courtroom.
Legal analyst Lisa Rubin took to the X platform to post a small segment of the proceeding when Engoron vented to Trump’s defense attorney, Chris Kise, about the leading 2024 GOP presidential contender’s responses while on the stand.
“Mr. Kise, can you control your client? This is not a political rally … Maybe you should have a talk with him right now,” Rubin quoted Engoron as saying.
That prompted Kise to respond that it would be better to let the “former and future chief executive of the United States” answer.
Judge Engoron: “Mr. Kise, can you control your client? This is not a political rally… Maybe you should have a talk with him right now.” Kise disagrees and says it would be far more economical to let the “former and future chief executive of the United States” to give his…
— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) November 6, 2023
But the drama didn’t end there. The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell also posted on X another exchange between Engoron and Trump attorney Alina Habba.
“I beseech you to control him if you can. If you can’t, I will. I will excuse him and draw every negative inference that I can,” Engoron, who has clearly been hostile to Trump the entire trial, said, per Lowell.
That led Habba to respond that if the attorney general’s prosecutor wanted better answers, he should ask better questions, to which Engoron boomed, “Sit down!”
“Very, very unfair trial, and I hope the public is watching,” Trump replied, per Lowell.
Trump lawyer Alina Habba tells the judge that NYAG prosecutor should ask better questions if he wants more specific answers. Judge shouts at Habba to “sit down!”— Trump rails: “Very very unfair trial and I hope the public is watching”
— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) November 6, 2023
James has filed a $250 million lawsuit against Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, accusing him of over-inflating his assets to get better loan deals. Trump has denied the allegations and has repeatedly said that no banks or financial institutions he did business with were harmed in any way.
Later, about midway through his nearly four hours on the stand, Trump lashed out at Engoron, saying, “He called me a fraud, and he didn’t know anything about me! The fraud is on the court, not on me.” He also called James, who was seated in the front row of the courtroom, “a political hack.”
Habba also expressed her displeasure with Engoron’s treatment of her after the proceedings.
“I was told to sit down today. I was yelled at and I’ve had a judge, who is unhinged, slamming a table. Let me be very clear: I don’t tolerate that in my life. I’m not going to tolerate it here,” she said.
Habba attacking the judge: But I was told to sit down today. I was yelled at and I've had a judge who is unhinged slamming a table. I don’t tolerate that in my life, I’m not going to tolerate it here pic.twitter.com/u6Sgd7dnqA
— Acyn (@Acyn) November 6, 2023
“And the numbers don’t lie when President Trump runs for office in 2024,” Habba said, according to the New York Post. “Those numbers are loud and clear.”
“This country is falling apart. And if we don’t stop corruption, in courtrooms where attorneys are gagged, where attorneys are not allowed to say what they need to say to protect their client’s interest. It doesn’t matter what your politics are. Everyone in this country has a right to put up a defense,” she said.
After initially giving his testimony in hushed tones for the previous two hours, Trump became obviously agitated and spoke out loud, accusing Engoron and James of “trying to hurt” him.
“When you rule Mar-A-Lago is worth $18 million and she rules it’s worth $25 million, either people are very stupid or there’s a fraud. The fraud is on behalf of the court,” he said.
“He said I’m a fraud because I didn’t value my property correctly,” Trump continued to loudly ramble. “He’s the one who didn’t rule my property correctly.”
Trump insisted he did a “great job” as president.
Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. have also testified in the trial. Daughter Ivanka Trump will testify this week, despite a New York appeals court previously ruling that she did not have to do so.