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
8 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
11:52 a.m. ET, October 25, 2023

Trump calls Judge Engoron’s clerk “the person alongside him” very partisan; he is under a gag order not to comment on the judge’s staff

From CNN's Laura Dolan

As he complained again about not having a jury for is civil fraud trial, former President Donald Trump said not only is the judge “very partisan” but so is the person sitting beside him. 

“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 as he asserted that even a negative jury wouldn’t vote against him.

The person sitting beside Judge Arthur Engoron is his clerk.  

Engoron fined Trump $5,000 on Friday for violating a gag order not to speak about any members of the court staff – and was warned twice about possible imprisonment.  The fine was handed down because the original post that led to the gag order on the second day of the trial was not erased from Trump’s campaign website.

“If we had a jury it would have been fair, at least. Even if it was a somewhat negative jury, because no negative jury would vote against me,” Trump said.

Trump's attorney earlier Wednesday asked Engoron to direct the clerk to stop rolling her eyes.

11:46 a.m. ET, October 25, 2023

Trump attorney raises Cohen's role sparking case AG's against Trump

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Lauren del Valle

Former President Donald Trump and his attorney Alina Habba wait for the continuation of Trump’s civil business fraud trial in New York on Wednesday.
Former President Donald Trump and his attorney Alina Habba wait for the continuation of Trump’s civil business fraud trial in New York on Wednesday. Seth Wenig/Pool/AP

Trump attorney Alina Habba pressed Michael Cohen on his book and tweets about testifying before the New York attorney general’s office, trying to paint Cohen as the impetus for the attorney general’s case against Trump.

Habba pointed to New York Attorney General Letitia James in the courtroom gallery, who raised her hand. Habba then asked Cohen if he was aware of James' statement thanking him and crediting Cohen with leading to their investigation.

"You're welcome," he responded, looking at James.

"I was being comical," he added when Habba asked why now was the time to address it.

Cohen also thanked the attorney general on the stand for crediting him with the start of their investigation, saying he never got a chance to thank her in person previously.

Habba then showed Cohen’s tweet from 2022 that included video of James’ announcement of her case against Trump where she referenced Cohen. “My journey to the truth has been filled with sadness, pain and anger. Todays announcement makes it all worth it!!!” Cohen wrote.

Habba then turned to Cohen’s book “Revenge,” where he wrote about testifying before congressional, state, and federal investigators.

Cohen testified the Manhattan District Attorney and Attorney General were working in tandem with attorneys from both offices present at his interviews.

"I gave them a roadmap," Cohen claimed.

Habba asked Cohen to confirm that the Manhattan District Attorney and Attorney General never brought charges or claims against Cohen, though he told them he was a central player in the inflation of Trump’s financial statements.

“The attorney general must believe that your story is not credible?” Habba asked.

“You're drawing a conclusion that I don’t know; you can ask Ms. James,” Cohen responded.

“Objection,” James said from the gallery to laughter.

11:32 a.m. ET, October 25, 2023

Michael Cohen's previous lies are in the spotlight

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Lauren del Valle

Michael Cohen arrives at New York Supreme Court for former President Donald Trump’s civil business fraud trial on Wednesday.
Michael Cohen arrives at New York Supreme Court for former President Donald Trump’s civil business fraud trial on Wednesday. Jeenah Moon/Reuters

The New York attorney general’s lawyers objected to Donald Trump’s attorneys accusing Michael Cohen of committing perjury after Cohen acknowledged he lied to the judge who sentenced him in his 2018 federal case.

Cohen said in response to questions from Trump attorney Alina Habba that he was lying when he admitted to tax evasion crimes in his 2018 guilty plea, saying he did not actually commit them.

“Did you lie to Judge (William) Pauley when you said that you were guilty of the counts that you said under oath that you were guilty of? Did you lie to Judge Pauley?” Habba asked Tuesday.

“Yes,” Cohen said.

On Wednesday, Habba once again raised Cohen’s self-described lie, saying that he had admitted to committing perjury under oath.

The remark prompted a vocal objection from New York attorney general attorney Colleen Faherty, who accused Trump’s lawyers of trying to instill “fear and intimidation in the witness” by accusing him of a crime. “The showmanship should not be permitted."

Trump’s attorneys responded that the allegations were relevant to Cohen’s credibility as a witness. “The attorney general is trying to cover for an extraordinarily defective witness,” said Trump attorney Chris Kise. “We are entitled to bring that out, we’re entitled to raise that."

“There’s nothing wrong with calling a liar a liar," Kise added.

Judge Arthur Engoron mostly sided with Trump’s attorneys, saying that Cohen’s lies were relevant, though he said that they didn’t need to use the word “perjury” when discussing them.

10:51 a.m. ET, October 25, 2023

Trump says Mark Meadows always felt the 2020 election was rigged and hasn't flipped

From CNN's Laura Dolan

Former President Donald Trump speaks before entering the courtroom on Wednesday.
Former President Donald Trump speaks before entering the courtroom on Wednesday. Seth Wenig/AP

Former President Donald Trump said he doesn’t believe reports that his former chief of staff Mark Meadows agreed to an immunity deal with special counsel Jack Smith in the federal investigation around January 6.

“I don’t believe it,” Trump said in response to a reporter question asking if he is concerned about Meadows' immunity deal, which was first reported by ABC News on Tuesday night. “I’ve spoken to Mark Meadows many, many times over the years and he strongly believes the election was rigged.”

Trump spoke in the hallway just before entering the courtroom for his civil fraud trial in New York, and said the special counsel is trying to trap people to testifying against him.

“Now, of course deranged Jack Smith and the prosecutors, they go after somebody for years and they say, ‘Look, here’s the story, we’ll erect a statue to you or you’re going to go to jail for 10 years,’ having done nothing wrong,” Trump said.

“A lot of people have to make that decision. Some people would never make that decision. Other people would.” 

Trump again said Meadows felt the election was rigged and said our nation is in decline, “all because of a rigged and stolen election.”

“Mark Meadows always felt it was rigged, the whole thing was rigged. It was rigged and it was stolen. And because it was rigged and stolen, our country has gone to hell,” Trump said.

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.