Former President Trump ended his $370 million civil fraud trial in a New York City courtroom today the same way he participated in much of it: by lashing out at the judge and violating court orders.
“This is a fraud on me,” Trump said of the case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, according to NBC News, whose reporters were present (recordings weren’t permitted).
“You have your own agenda,” Trump proceeded to tell Judge Arthur Engoron. “You can’t listen for more than one minute!”
“Mr. Kise, please control your client,” Engoron urged Trump’s lawyer, Chris Kise, according to Politico.
Whether Trump would get to speak at all during today’s closing arguments was the subject of a testy email exchange between Kise and Engoron, in which the judge wrote that he would only allow Trump to speak if the ex- (and aspiring) president promised not to “comment on irrelevant matters,” “deliver a campaign speech,” or “impugn myself, my staff, plaintiff, plaintiff’s staff, or the New York State Court System.” (Typically, defendants don’t deliver remarks during closing arguments—their lawyers do—but Trump, as we know, loves a spotlight.)
Unsurprisingly, Trump proceeded to ignore the judge’s conditions—even after Engoron asked him to “promise to just comment on the facts and the law,” according to NBC, which reported that Trump immediately launched into his response, disregarding the judge’s question. Trump followed his courtroom outburst with another at a press conference he hosted, where he called the trial a “witch hunt” and “election interference” and said he should be entitled to damages.
The former president’s incendiary comments capped off a dramatic 24 hours: about 12 hours after Trump used a Truth Social post to call Engoron a “TRUMP HATING JUDGE” presiding over a “RIGGED AND UNFAIR TRIAL,” the judge was the target of a swatting—a false report of an emergency designed to prompt a large police response—as I reported this morning. Authorities said the threat was unfounded, and a court representative told me they beefed up security today in light of the threat.
Today’s episode was far from Trump’s only eruption over the months-long course of the trial: as my colleague Russ Choma has reported, Trump has continually sparred with Engoron, including during courtroom appearances, and repeatedly attacked Engoron’s clerk with falsehoods.
As Russ also previously reported, Engoron already found Trump liable for fraud before the trial—which focused on other charges, including falsification of business records—got underway. All that’s left for the judge to do now is rule on just how much Trump owes.