Trump bails out of fraud trial on 3rd day: He came, he scowled, he got gagged, and left

  • Donald Trump left his New York business-fraud trial on Wednesday after attending for 2 1⁄2 days.

  • During that time, he held multiple hallway press conferences and was hit with a limited gag order.

  • Trump must return in the coming weeks to testify in the $250 million civil trial.

Exit, Donald Trump.

After 2 ½ days of scowling inside — and angrily speechifying just outside — a Manhattan courtroom, the former president on Wednesday left his $250 million civil fraud trial.

He doesn't have to return until he testifies by order of a New York state subpoena some weeks from now.

"I'd rather be right now in Iowa," Trump said in a parting shot to reporters at the start of the lunch break, midway through the trial's first week.

"I'm stuck here because I have a corrupt attorney general who communicates with the Justice Department to keep me busy," he said, leaving the third-floor courtroom, where the future of his real-estate empire is set to be decided over the next two to three months.

New York's attorney general, Letitia James, has sued Trump, his eldest sons, and his real-estate empire, the Trump Organization, alleging he falsely inflated the value of his properties by as much as $3.6 billion a year in official statements to banks, insurers, and others.

"The Donald Trump show is over," James, who has also attended the trial, told reporters after her lead defendant's departure.

"I will not be bullied," she added of Trump, who has repeatedly blasted her as "racist." James criticized the former president for turning the trial into a "political stunt" and "fundraising stop."

Donald Trump appearing in court.
Trump in court Tuesday.Pool/Getty Images.

By Day 3, Trump was ready to leave

Trump had appeared to run out of steam by Wednesday morning.

He dillydallied while returning to the courtroom after a midmorning break, letting one of his attorneys question the witness on the stand without him. He strolled in during the middle of the cross-examination. At that point, there was only a short while left before the court's 1 p.m. lunch break.

Over the break, Trump flew the coop. New York City Police Department officers dismantled the barriers around the courthouse, indicating it was liberated from the grip of the US Secret Service, which had taken over security measures. Three officers told Insider they didn't expect Trump to return the following day, or else they would have left the barriers in place.

Trump's antics in front of the press cameras just outside the courtroom's double doors have often upstaged the plodding and laborious financial testimony inside, where camera use is limited.

During his half-week in residence at the trial, chaperoned by the Secret Service, Trump attacked the attorney general and the judge — in addition to off-topic diatribes against President Joe Biden and the special counsel Jack Smith.

Trump earned a limited gag order Tuesday when he singled out the judge's principal law clerk — including in a disparaging Truth Social post and campaign email that identified her by name and photo and linked to her Instagram account.

The post said the clerk was "running this case against me," reaching millions of his followers before being taken down. "How disgraceful!" it added.

Arthur Engoron, the judge presiding over the case, said from the bench that the gag barred all parties from "posting or publicly speaking about any member of my staff," warning of "swift, meaningful sanctions" if it happened again.

Trump also falsely claimed Engoron had thrown out "80%" of the attorney general's case and had crazily "valued" Mar-a-Lago at only $18 million. The judge had actually quoted that figure from a decade-old assessment of the Palm Beach tax books.

"Please, press, stop saying that I valued it at $18 million. That was a tax assessment," the judge said Monday, asking the media to stop repeating the claim.

On Wednesday afternoon, Trump bristled on his way out when a reporter asked him why he was attending if he'd rather be campaigning.

"Why attend?" he shot back. "I want to point it out to the press how corrupt it is because no one else is able to do it."

Testimony inside is expected to plod on.

By the lunch break Wednesday, the second day of testimony by Donald Bender, the Trump Org's longtime outside accountant, had become so repetitive that the judge snapped at Trump's lawyers for slowing the testimony down.

When Trump's lawyer said Wednesday morning that he would be done with Bender by the end of the day, there was exhausted laughter throughout the room.

In the afternoon, Camron Harris of the tax and audit firm Whitley Penn took the stand.

Read the original article on Business Insider