October 25, 2023 - Trump fined for violating gag order in civil fraud trial after taking stand

By Dan Berman and Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, CNN

Updated 6:34 p.m. ET, October 25, 2023
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10:42 a.m. ET, October 25, 2023

Clerk asked to stop rolling her eyes and end side conversations

From CNN's Lauren del Valle

The tension between Donald Trump's attorneys and Judge Arthur Engoron's court staff showed itself before court gaveled in Wednesday morning.

Trump lawyer Alina Habba asked the judge to have his clerk refrain from "eye rolls and constant whispering."

"It is incredibly distracting when there are eye rolls and constant whispering at the bench when I'm cross examining," Habba said.

Engoron said, "Okay, granted."

His clerk, Allison Greenfield, did not show any visible reaction to the request.

Greenfield was the subject of a social media post from Trump that resulted in Engoron putting a limited gag order on the former president earlier this month.

During the trial, Engoron and Trump's lawyers have clashed on a variety of fronts, such as the length and demeanor of questioning during cross-examination of the New York attorney general's witnesses.

10:11 a.m. ET, October 25, 2023

Cohen back on the stand as fraud trial resumes

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Michael Cohen arrives at New York Supreme Court for former President Donald Trump's civil business fraud trial on Wednesday in New York.
Michael Cohen arrives at New York Supreme Court for former President Donald Trump's civil business fraud trial on Wednesday in New York. Yuki Iwamura/AP

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, is back on the stand in the former president’s New York civil fraud trial Wednesday morning.

Trump is also back in the courtroom, sitting at the defendant’s table just feet from Cohen.

During his testimony on Tuesday, Cohen implicated his former boss, describing how he manipulated Trump’s financial statements under instruction from Trump -- “reverse-engineering” them to hit an arbitrary net worth.

But Cohen got into testy exchanges with Trump lawyer Alina Habba once she began her cross-examination late in the day Tuesday – objecting to several of her questions as Habba walked Cohen through his 2018 federal charges and the loss of his law license. It’s a dynamic that could continue to play out Wednesday as Habba is likely to address Cohen’s testimony about Trump’s financial statements under questioning from the New York attorney general’s office.

Cohen is a key witness for New York attorney general Letitia James in her civil case against Trump and his business. The New York attorney general is seeking $250 million in damages and to bar Trump from doing business in New York.

10:04 a.m. ET, October 25, 2023

Analysis: Trump rages as former acolytes turn against him amid legal scrutiny

From CNN's Stephen Collinson

Former US President Donald Trump appears in the courtroom for his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 24, in New York. 
Former US President Donald Trump appears in the courtroom for his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 24, in New York.  Maansi Srivastava/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s wealth, power and fame acted like a magnet for new associates keen to enter his orbit. But now, key figures who sought a share of his reflected glory are turning against him to save themselves.

The ex-president absorbed a trio of blows Tuesday that worsened his legal peril and underscored how the 2024 election – in which he is the front-runner for the GOP nomination – will play out in the courts rather than traditional voting battlegrounds.

In the most significant development, ABC News reported that Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had met federal prosecutors multiple times and had categorically undermined the ex-president’s narrative about a stolen election. Meadows was the gatekeeper to the Oval Office in the critical days when Trump was allegedly plotting to steal the 2020 election after voters rejected his bid for a second term. CNN has reached out to Meadows’ attorney for comment.

In another damaging twist, former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, who blanketed television networks after President Joe Biden’s victory to falsely claim he was elected because of fraud, reached a plea deal with Georgia prosecutors. Ellis on Tuesday tearfully confessed to the felony of aiding and abetting false statements that she and other lawyers told Peach State lawmakers. She was the third former Trump acolyte to agree to testify against the ex-president and others this week. The election subversion prosecution brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is now following the classic playbook of a racketeering case wherein smaller fish are peeled away for reduced sentences to secure their testimony against the alleged kingpin.

“If I knew then what I knew now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges. I look back on this experience with deep remorse,” Ellis said.

Read the full analysis here.

10:05 a.m. ET, October 25, 2023

Key takeaways from Michael Cohen’s long-awaited faceoff with Trump in court

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Lauren del Valle

Former President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen leaves Trump's civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 24, in New York City. 
Former President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen leaves Trump's civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 24, in New York City.  Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Michael Cohen said he had a “heck of a reunion” Tuesday with his former boss Donald Trump when he testified against the former president at his New York civil fraud trial.

With Trump sitting feet away, Trump’s one-time lawyer and fixer described how he manipulated Trump’s financial statements – “reverse-engineering” them to hit an arbitrary net worth. Cohen explained how he would inflate the value of Trump’s properties along with the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer.

Once Trump’s lawyer began questioning Cohen, things quickly got heated, as he sneered at the questions and loudly objected to one line of questioning.

Cohen said that he and former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg would manipulate Trump’s financial statements, the documents at the center of the civil fraud trial, based on what Trump wanted his net worth to reflect.

“I was tasked by Mr. Trump to increase the total assets based upon a number that he arbitrarily elected and my responsibility along with Allen Weisselberg predominantly was to reverse engineer the various different assets classes, increase those assets in order to achieve the number that Mr. Trump had tasked us.”

Asked what numbers they would hit, Cohen said, “Whatever number Mr. Trump told us to.”

Cohen explained that when Trump would look at the financial statements, he would “look at the total assets and he would say ‘I’m actually not worth 4.5 billion, I’m really worth more like six.’ He would then direct Allen and I to go back to Allen’s office and return after we achieved the desired goal.”

Looking at Trump’s 2012 statement of financial condition, Cohen said he recalled inflating assets including Trump Tower, Trump Park Ave., Trump World Tower at United Nations Plaza, the commercial side of 100 Central Park South, the Mansion at Seven Springs, the Miss Universe Pageants and “possibly others.”

Cohen said that they would look at numbers “being achieved elsewhere” in New York and recalculate valuations using real estate as “comparables” that were achieving the highest prices per square foot in the city, even though those properties had different amenities from Trump’s assets. Those other properties would have different ceiling heights, unobstructed views, and were not inhibited by rent control, for instance.

“You could call them comparable, but comparable would imply that they are similar,” Cohen said.

Read key takeaways.