Fireworks at Trump Fraud Trial in NYS Supreme Court as Cohen Testifies

Our intrepid East Side Observer trekked downtown to watch Michael Cohen testify against his former boss in the civil fraud trial against Donald Trump’s businesses that NYS Attorney General Letitia James is pursuing in NY State Supreme Court.

| 27 Oct 2023 | 01:42

Law and Disorder–Oct 25, 2023: Part 37, New York County Supreme Court, was called to order and those present were told to “All Rise” as Justice Arthur Engoron took to the bench with his Principal Law Clerk Allison Greenfield seated beside him.

It was a big day–the second day of testimony by Michael Cohen–who spent over a decade as the personal attorney and “fixer” for former president Donald J. Trump’s real estate company–in the case brought by NYS Attorney General Letitia James alleging various levels of fraud to banks, insurance companies and others dealing with what she claimed were deliberately over valued assets of the Trump Organization. Trump is claiming that the assets were actually undervalued and the trial is part of the ongoing “witch hunt” by Democrats seeking to derail his campaign.

Security was on high alert in Room 300, which was named in honor of the late Justice Paul Feinman, a former Justice in the New York County Supreme Court for 20 years and an associate justice on the New York State Court of Appeals from 2017 until his death in 2021. Tempers hopefully would not flare when Donald J. Trump would continue hearing testimony from his nemesis, Cohen, who would be taking the stand for a second day. While this was a civil trial, defendant Trump was not required to attend.

But he did indeed attend. Surrounded by a Secret Service detail, Trump, in business attire, entered the courtroom and was escorted to the defense table and seated alongside his coterie of attorneys. Once seated, five or six or more photographers positioned themselves in front of the defense table and snapped away.

In addition to AG James, those in the courtroom included Eric Trump, retired judge Barbara Jaffe, attorney David Osvald, and NOW NY president Sonia Ossorio. The courtroom was filled to capacity with members of the public and the press. Once everyone was seated, Cohen, casually dressed, open collar, no tie, entered the courtroom flanked by his two attorneys and was escorted to the witness stand by a court officer. His attorneys sat in reserved seats in the courtroom. They took notes and tracked Cohen’s testimony.

The day wasn’t without drama beyond Cohen’s testimony. After a courtroom break, Justice Engoron announced from the bench that, during the break, Trump made statements to the Associated Press and other reporters and the tv cameras in the hallway outside the courtroom which he said constituted a breach of his gag order. In his statements, Trump reportedly said, that the judge was partisan (which wasn’t a violation of the order), but then added “with a person who’s very partisan sitting alongside him. Perhaps even more partisan than he is,” and that, the judge said, was a breach of the gag order, despite Trump having testified that he wasn’t referring to Allison Greenfield but to Michael Cohen. Notably, Trump had previously attacked Greenfield on social media. The judge called Trump to the stand to testify under oath and announced his finding minutes after the testimony, saying that he found Trump’s testimony was not credible and that he was imposing a $10,000 fine for the second violation of the gag order. Trump returned to his seat at the defense table. However, but it wasn’t until Trump’s attorney, Clifford S. Robert, made a motion to dismiss the case after Cohen testified that he did not recall Trump’s directing him to inflate numbers on his financial statements and the judge denied it, that Trump bolted from his seat, saying to his lawyers, “I’m leaving,” causing his Secret Service detail to scurry to surround him with Eric Trump following immediately behind.

The Cohen testimony had its own intrigues, especially when under cross examination by Trump lawyer Alina Habba. She got Cohen to concede that although he pleaded guilty in 2018 to tax evasion that would end up sending him to jail, he he now disavows his own earlier sworn testimony.

MSNBC’s Lisa Rubin in her court room dispatch noted the shock of hearing such an admission. “The experienced journalist sitting next to me even gasped aloud,” she said. For the record, it wasn’t me.

For me, after spending the day in Courtroom 300 and standing in line to go through metal detectors several times, it was time to go home. That meant I would miss going in person to Assembly Member Alex Bores’s Town Hall at CUNY Graduate Center and attend the new-fashioned way, via Zoom.