Courtroom Drama: Judge Accuses Trump of Trying to Intimidate Jurors on Day 2

Mary Altaffer/Getty
Mary Altaffer/Getty

It’s only the second day of Donald Trump’s New York trial, but the judge has already seen fit to sternly warn the former president to shut up in the courtroom, after New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan witnessed Trump mumbling something while facing a juror in the courtroom.

“Your client was uttering something in the direction of the juror,” Merchan said to Trump’s lead attorney, Todd Blanche. “I won’t tolerate that. I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom. I want to make that crystal clear. Take a minute with your client.”

While the court proceeding quickly moved on as lawyers continued to debate the merits of knocking potential jurors off the panel, the brief lashing showed how the judge continues to wrestle with a former president whose courtroom behavior shows undeniable contempt for the nation’s justice system.

Trump was similarly ordered to stop talking by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan during a two-week rape defamation trial in January, where Trump would regularly mutter angry misgivings from the defense table just feet from the jury. In that case, the judge forcefully ordered defense lawyer Alina Habba to restrain her client—or have him ejected from the courtroom.

And months before that, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur F. Engoron had to repeatedly remind Trump to keep quiet in his courtroom and cease his irritated outbursts in which he would complain about the judge’s law clerk and the case as a whole.

Trump is already facing a gag order in his current criminal trial, and Justice Merchan has displayed little patience for the former president’s traditional courtroom antics. His speedy interjection Tuesday is just the latest signal that Trump won’t be able to get away with his typical behavior of ostentatiously reacting to witness testimony, prosecutor arguments, and unfavorable rulings from the judge.

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