The Manhattan judge presiding over Donald Trump’s $250 million civil fraud trial expressed frustration on Wednesday. He displayed his irritation by forcefully hitting his hand on the bench and exclaiming, “This is ridiculous” This reaction occurred when the former president’s legal team was questioning his former accountant, Donald Bender from Mazars USA, and accused him of avoiding their inquiries.
The lawyers had consistently emphasized the necessity of thoroughly examining Trump’s financial records in a detailed manner, going through them “year by year.”
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron admonished them, advising against wasting time.
Trump’s attorney, Jesus Suarez, had dedicated a portion of Tuesday afternoon and the entirety of Wednesday morning to cross-examining Bender. He stated his intention to continue questioning him until the end of the day.
Another lawyer representing Trump, Christopher Kise, remarked that Bender appears to remember only the information that aligns with the government’s desired recollection.
Kise acknowledged that they would attempt to make the cross-examination more efficient, but the judge emphasized once again, “Let’s not waste time.”
During Wednesday’s testimony, which marked the third day of the trial in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit, Judge Engoron intervened twice more with Trump’s legal team. At one juncture, he hinted that they were catering to the media and conducting their defense as though a jury were in attendance.
Likewise, an attorney representing the Attorney General’s Office was surprised to learn that Trump’s legal team intended to continue questioning Bender for the remainder of the day.
“There’s no jury. I don’t know who we’re performing for,” the attorney said.
The leading candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, who has been present at the trial in Lower Manhattan since it commenced on Monday, departed for Florida following the lunch break on Wednesday. According to a source, Trump was scheduled to head directly to the airport to return to Mar-a-Lago.
It remained uncertain whether and when Trump might make a return to the courtroom, although he has stated his willingness to testify if summoned as a witness. Judge Engoron appeared to be in a more jovial mood after the lunch break and made a humorous remark about AG attorney Kevin Wallace’s birthday, “Today is a very important day.”
Upon her return after lunch, James, who has been present throughout the entire trial thus far, stated that the spectacle surrounding Trump had come to an end.
Trump’s presence at the courthouse on 60 Centre Street led to a significant turnout of protesters on Monday morning, with some even blocking a nearby street.
The former president has consistently used media appearances and his social media platform to criticize the case, the attorney general, the judge, and even the judge’s clerk. This prompted Judge Engoron to impose a partial gag order on Tuesday afternoon.
On Wednesday, when Trump appeared in court, he went on a three-minute tirade, criticizing James for purportedly using the prosecution against him as part of her unsuccessful campaign for governor.
On Wednesday, the defense submitted a formal appeal following Judge Engoron’s significant ruling from last week, which favored the Attorney General on one of her primary assertions, holding Trump accountable for fraud.
Additionally, this ruling revoked Trump’s business licenses within the state.
During the opening statements, the Attorney General’s Office contended that Trump had consistently inflated his assets over the years, primarily to secure advantageous loans and insurance, and also to bolster his standing on Forbes’ list of billionaires, driven in part by vanity.