As he left court at his political fraud trial on Oct. 24, Donald Trump learned that another of his former campaign lawyers had pleaded guilty in Georgia and that the White House chief of staff knew his claims for the 2020 election they were fake.
The next day, after spending two days at the defense table, arms crossed, shoulders hunched, staring off into the middle distance and forced to listen to his former lawyer Michael Cohen testify against him, the former president stood outside his heavy wooden courtroom. Manhattan. doors and violated a gag order in the case for a second time.
And after the judge overseeing the case strongly rejected a request by Mr. Trump's lawyers to dismiss the case, the former president threw up his hands, rose from his seat and stormed out of the courtroom.
On October 26, he logged into his Truth Social account.
He launched a series of attacks against the judge who oversaw his fraud trial, the attorney general who sued him, the witness who testified against him and a journalist who wrote about his two days in court, a series of insults about the former allies of the former president turned against him in cases that threaten his business and electoral prospects.
In court testimony this week, his former loyalists dismissed false election claims about his efforts to stay in power in 2020, as well as the vast net worth he reported in statements to financial institutions.
As his trial continued without him on Wednesday, Mr Trump took to Truth Social to blast the “bogus and completely discredited case” and the “radical left-wing judge” presiding over it.
He wrote that Cohen was “collapsing and suffocating” and “suffocating [sic] like a dog” on the witness stand and “broke down” in court.
The former president wrote that Cohen committed “Mass Perjury, on a level rarely seen before,” comparing what he claims to have witnessed to “the end of the best Petty Mason [sic] episode, where the accused breaks down and cries, “Yeah, I did it, I did it, I did it.”
But Cohen didn't do that.
Earlier this week, Cohen testified that he was “tasked by Mr. Trump to increase the total assets based on a number he arbitrarily chose” for his financial statement, the documents at the heart of the case show.
Cohen and convicted former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weiselberg were instructed “to review the various asset classes — to increase those assets — in order to achieve the number that Mr. Trump had assigned us,” said the Cohen.
Asked by counsel for the attorney general's office what that number was, Cohen replied, “Whatever number Mr. Trump told us.”
Cohen, speaking deliberately and slowly under questioning by the attorney general's office, told the court that he ran the former president's affairs “at the direction, in concert, and for the benefit of Mr. Trump.”
Trump's lawyer, Alina Haba, walking around the courtroom as she questioned Cohen, showed him a series of glowing statements he made to the press about his former boss from his years as an employee of the Trump Organization.
Under questioning by his lawyers, Cohen agreed that his former boss never asked him to “inflate” the evidence at the heart of the case, but that his orders were implicit rather than clear.
“Donald Trump talks like a mob boss,” Cohen testified. “He tells you what he wants without telling you specifically… That's what I was referring to.”
“When did I break down?” Cohen wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Thursday. “Is he referring to me laughing at him and his minion of stupid lawyers? In fact, Judge Engoron said “I don't find you (Trump) credible”. I mean…Donald, you are a liar and a perjurer as you were under oath!”
In a written order that found Mr. Trump violated the court order, Judge Arthur Engoron wrote that the former president's testimony in defense of statements he made outside the courtroom “rings hollow and untrue.”
In remarks to reporters outside the courtroom on Wednesday, Trump criticized the “very partisan judge” and “a person who is very partisan sitting next to him,” in what the judge said was a comment aimed at the his employee.
Trump's lawyers claimed he was referring to Cohen.
The judge was not convinced. Call Trump to testify. The judge said he did not find his testimony credible.
“The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘alongside' as ‘next to the side of. next to.' “Witnesses do not sit ‘next to' the judge, they sit in the witness box, separated from the judge by a low wooden barrier,” Judge Engoron wrote in a written version of his order made public Thursday.
“Furthermore, Donald Trump's past public statements demonstrate that he refers to Michael Cohen directly by name or by a derogatory name, but in all circumstances, he is clear in making it known that he is referring to Michael Cohen,” he wrote.
The language he used in his statement to reporters “mirrors” the language he used weeks earlier when he “inappropriately and arguably” conveyed false statements about the judge's chief clerk, he wrote.
“The use of imprecise language as an excuse to create reasonable ambiguity as to whether the defendant violated this court's clear gag order is no defense. the point of Donald Trump's statements to the press was unmistakably clear,” he added.
It wrote that Mr. Trump “deliberately violated the gag order” and ordered him to release proof of payment of the latest fine, as well as the one imposed last week, within two days of their issuance.