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Trump storms out of courtroom amid clash with foe Michael Cohen, as he's issued $10,000 fine for violating gag order
26 October 2023, 00:59 | Updated: 26 October 2023, 01:00
Donald Trump stormed out of his $250 million fraud trial on Wednesday and was fined $10,000 for violating a gag order for a second time.
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Former US president Donald Trump president left the courtroom up in arms on Wednesday, forcing Secret Service agents to chase after him.
Trump’s dramatic exit came moments after one of his lawyers questioned his ex-lawyer-turned-foe, Michael Cohen.
Testifying on Wednesday, Mr Cohen stated that Trump did not direct him to increase the value of his properties in his Trump Organization.
Mr Cohen’s statement contradicted his earlier testimony and saw defence attorney Clifford Robert ask for a directed verdict from the judge, as he argued it was grounds for dismissal.
However, Judge Arthur Engoron denied the request, adding that he did not consider Mr Cohen a “key witness”.
“There's enough evidence in this case to fill this courtroom,” Mr Engoron added.
Mr Cohen had previously testified on Tuesday that Trump had directed him to “reverse engineer” the value of his assets.
Speaking again on Wednesday, Mr Cohen clarified that he meant Trump did not specifically ask him to inflate their value - rather that Trump made indirect orders.
Trump’s enraged departure from the courtroom also came after he was called to the stand to receive a $10,000 fine for violating a gag order for a second time.
Judge Engoron said comments Trump had made to reporters during a break in the trial had violated a partial gag order he had been issued.
“This judge is a very partisan judge, with a person who's very partisan sitting alongside of him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is,” Trump told reporters.
Asked to briefly take to the stand to settle the matter, Trump claimed that this reference was not made about the judge's clerk, Allison Greenfield.
He told the judge it was about “you and Cohen”, not the judge and his clerk - but this was later deemed “not credible” and he was issued the fine.
“I am very protective of my staff as I believe I should be," Judge Engoron had earlier said. “I don't want anybody to get killed."
Five days prior, Trump also received a fine of $5,000 for keeping a post he had taken down from his Truth social media platform on his campaign website, which he had been ordered to remove.
Mr Cohen’s relationship with Mr Trump soured after he cut ties with the former president five years ago.
His links to Trump landed him in jail for just over a year after he pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion, lying to a bank and campaign finance violations in 2018.
The case, brought by New York attorney general Letitia James, alleges that the Trump Organization fraudulently inflated the value of its assets to attain more favourable loans.
The organisation was already found to have committed fraud - the current case is to settle additional charges.