The former president reportedly threw his hands up, said "I'm leaving," and abruptly exited the courtroom on Wednesday after a judge denied his request to throw out his civil fraud case
Donald Trump stormed out of his civil fraud trial on Wednesday to courtroom gasps, moments after his former attorney Michael Cohen backtracked on earlier testimony about whether he had lied to Congress.
CNN reports that Cohen appeared to offer inconsistent testimonies this week about whether Trump directed him or former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg to inflate numbers on his personal financial statements.
When Cohen ultimately stated that Trump never directly instructed him to inflate the value of his assets, Trump's lawyers asked for the judge to issue a directed verdict in Trump's favor on the grounds that their case had just been proved. The judge denied the motion.
At that point, various outlets report, the former president threw up his hands, said, "I'm leaving," and walked out of the courtroom trailed by Secret Service agents as members of the courtroom gasped.
One NBC News reporter described the situation on X by writing that Secret Service agents were "chasing after him" when he left the court, in a move that was described as "completely unexpected and surprising to his own attorneys."
Once outside, Trump told reporters, “The witness just admitted that we won the trial. And the judge should end this trial immediately.”
Earlier in the day, Trump was fined $10,000 by the judge in the case for violating a gag order during a break in the hearing when he spoke to reporters outside the courthouse.
“This judge is a very partisan judge with a person who is very partisan sitting alongside him — perhaps even much more partisan than he is," Trump said at the time — a remark the judge said was likely in reference to a clerk (which Trump disputed).
Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison in late 2018 after telling authorities he helped coordinate hush payments to a number of women on Trump's behalf, including to Stormy Daniels, in an effort to keep the president's past alleged affairs quiet ahead of the election.
The president's longtime lawyer, who represented Trump from 2006 until 2018, also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Russian real estate project the president was working to complete during his 2016 campaign. Trump's 2016 election bid has been investigated for alleged ties to Russian interference, which critics claim helped the president win the historic, shocking election.
Trump's Wednesday appearance in court comes as part of a fraud case brought against him and and senior executives at his company by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The lawsuit alleges that the former president — with the help of his adult children and the executives mentioned in the filing — falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars in an effort to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms and to obtain other economic and tax benefits.
James' office said in a press release that "from 2011-2021, Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization knowingly and intentionally created more than 200 false and misleading valuations of assets on his annual Statements of Financial Condition to defraud financial institutions."
The Trumps have argued that James' investigation is politically motivated, which she has repeatedly denied.
In a press conference, James said she seeks to make Trump pay $250 million in fines, ban the family from operating any New York businesses in the future, and ban the former president and the Trump Organization from buying commercial real estate in New York for five years.
Since leaving office in 2021, the former president has been mired in a number of legal issues and investigations on various fronts, including into his political conduct and business affairs.
Four of those investigations have led to indictments — the first one making him the only U.S. president to face criminal charges, and the next two further distinguishing him as the only president to face federal charges.
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