Donald Trump has been told to keep his volume down after becoming emotional in his civil fraud trial in New York
NEW YORK (AP) — A judge warned Donald Trump and others in his civil fraud trial in New York to keep their voices down Wednesday after the former president raised his hands in frustration and spoke loudly to his lawyers as a witness testified against him.
Judge Arthur Engoron issued the warning after Trump spoke animatedly with his lawyers at the defense table during the second day of real estate appraiser Doug Larson’s testimony in the Manhattan trial.
State’s Attorney Kevin Wallace asked Engoron to ask the defense “to stop commenting during the witness’s testimony,” adding that “warnings” were audible on the witness’s side of the room. The judge then asked everyone to keep their voices low, “particularly if it was intended to influence testimony.”
The 2024 Republican nominee was in court for the second day in a row on Wednesday, witnessing a trial that threatens to upend his real estate empire and his image as a wealthy businessman. He attended the first three days, but was absent last week. He left Tuesday during an afternoon break to testify in an unrelated lawsuit.
In a pretrial decision last month, Engoron ruled that Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, committed years of fraud by overstating the values of his assets and net worth in annual financial statements used to make deals and obtain better terms for loans and insurance.
As punishment, Engoron ordered that a court-appointed receiver take control of some Trump companies, putting future oversight of Trump Tower and other landmark properties into question, but an appeals court held up. I prevented it for now.
Trump did not speak about the case on his way to court in front of television cameras on Wednesday, reserving his usual vitriol about the lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James during the morning break.
Inside the courtroom, closed to cameras, Trump bristled as Larson testified. Trump’s lawyers were seeking to undermine the state’s allegations that his top corporate deputies played games to inflate his property values and boost his profits.
In a series of questions, Trump’s lawyer, Lazaro Fields, sought to prove that Larson had, at one point, underestimated the expected 2015 value of a Trump-owned Wall Street office building by $114 million. “The values weren’t wrong, it’s what we knew at the time,” Larson said.
Trump raised his hands during the exchange.
Larson testified Tuesday that he never consulted with, or gave permission to, Jeffrey McCone, the former Trump Organization comptroller, to cite him as an outside expert in the valuation spreadsheets he used to create Trump’s financial statements.
Fields on Wednesday accused Larson of lying, citing a decade-long email exchange between McCone and the appraiser.
This sparked an angry debate between the defense and the state, with Trump’s lawyer Christopher Casey suggesting that Larson risked perjury and needed to be advised about his rights against self-incrimination. State’s Attorney Colleen Faherty called Casey’s comments “witness intimidation.”
After Larson was escorted out of the courtroom, Casey insisted he was trying to protect the rights of a witness, while state’s attorney Kevin Wallace complained that the defense was putting on a “performance” for the media. In the end, Engoron allowed Larson to come back and answer the question without any legal warning. Larson said he did not remember the email.
When asked again if he understood that McCone had sought his input in order to make the evaluations, a tired Larson said: “That’s what it sounds like.”
Trump criticized the exchange during a court recess.
“See what happened? The government lied. They’re just lying. They didn’t release all the information they had,” Trump said. “They didn’t release all the evidence that made me completely innocent of anything they said.”
After Larson, state attorneys contacted Jack Weisselberg, the son of former longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. The son arranged the financing for Trump while he was an executive at Ladder Capital.
Trump’s civil trial includes six allegations in James’ lawsuit that were unresolved in Engoron’s pretrial ruling, including allegations of conspiracy, insurance fraud and falsifying business records. Engoron will decide the case, not a jury, because state law does not allow this type of lawsuit.
Wednesday’s spat was just the latest clash between Engoron and Trump.
After Trump slandered a key court employee on social media on the second day of the trial, the judge, a Democrat, issued a limited gag order barring parties in the case from smearing his staff. Last year, Engoron held Trump in contempt of court and fined him $110,000 for being slow to respond to a subpoena from James’ office.
Trump said Tuesday outside court that he has come to like and respect Engoron, but believes Democrats are “pushing him around like a pinball.” “It’s a very unfair situation they put me in,” Trump said.
Associated Press reporter Jill Colvin contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on apnews.com