Donald Trump appeared angry and upset as he testified in his civil fraud trial in New York, attacking prosecutors and the judge during his five hours on the stand.
The former president turned the courtroom into a campaign rally, taking shots at the judge, Arthur Engoron, accusing him of making “stupid rulings” and being a “political hack”.
“It’s a terrible thing you’ve done,” Trump told the judge. “You know nothing about me.”
Engoron appeared to lose patience with Trump at times, as the former president waffled and failed to directly answer questions from the prosecution.
“This is not a political rally. It is a courtroom,” Engoron said.
Prosecutors are alleging that Trump inflated his assets on financial statements to secure favorable terms from banks and insurers. The judge has already made a partial determination that Trump and his company engaged in fraud.
In a fiery exchange, an attorney for Trump snapped at the judge. Alina Habba quipped “you are here to hear what he has to say,” before being told to sit down.
“I am not here to hear what he has to say,” Engoron snapped back. “I am here to hear him answer questions.”
It is not the first time Trump has taken the stand in this trial.
While his former attorney Michael Cohen was testifying in recent weeks, the former president stepped out of the courtroom and spoke to the press gaggle waiting outside to attack the “partisan” person sitting next to the judge.
Trump claimed the target of his attack was his former fixer Michael Cohen, not the judge’s law clerk who has sat behind him throughout the trial. The judge did not find this credible. The defendant in this case has called Cohen many things, but partisan is not one of them.
Engoron slapped Trump with his second fine for violating the gag order which restricts him from targeting court staff. Trump remains free to criticise the judge as he did in his testimony on Monday.
The former president was testifying in a court of law but his testimony seemed to be directed to the court of public opinion. This strategy suggests that his team believes they have already lost the case.
It has also been speculated that the Trump legal team may be hoping to exert enough pressure on Judge Engoron that he make a mistake that would create an opening for an appeal.
Trump was not cross examined by his defence team but may return to the stand when the defence makes its case. His daughter Ivanka Trump will testify later in the week.