The Manhattan judge deciding Donald Trump’s $250 million civil fraud trial lost his cool on Wednesday — slamming his hand on the bench and snapping, “This is ridiculous” — as the former president’s lawyers grilled his ex-accountant over inconsistent testimony.
The judge’s annoyed reaction came after Trump’s side claimed that Donald Bender, a partner at accounting firm Mazars USA, was evading their questions.
The attorneys had also repeatedly insisted they needed to meticulously go through Trump’s financial records with Bender “year by year.”
“Don’t waste time,” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron said sternly.
Trump attorney Jesus Suarez had spent part of Tuesday afternoon and all of Wednesday morning cross-examining Bender — and said he would continue with the questioning through the end of the day.
“This is ridiculous!” Engoron said, hitting his hand on the bench. “Mr. Bender isn’t on trial here.”
Another Trump attorney, Christopher Kise, said the only things Bender “seems to recall are what the government wants him to recall.”
“We need to be allowed to parse the evidence — we didn’t bring this case,” Kise argued.
Alina Habba, also a Trump lawyer, chimed in, “We haven’t got one answer from him … he has no memory as we sit here.”
Kise conceded that they would try “to streamline” the cross-examination before the judge reiterated: “Let’s not waste time.”
Over the course of testimony Wednesday — the third day of trial in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit — Engoron checked Trump’s legal team twice more, at one point suggesting they were pandering to the press and carrying out their defense as if a jury were present.
“There is no jury here,” he said — reportedly prompting an exasperated response from Trump, 77, who threw his arms in the air while sitting with his attorneys at the defense table.
“Who are you talking to — me, the press or the audience?” Engoron asked Kise at another point.
Similarly, a lawyer for the AG’s Office was shocked to hear that Bender would be questioned by Trump’s side for the rest of the day.
“There’s no jury. I don’t know who we’re performing for,” the attorney was heard saying.
The 2024 Republican presidential front-runner — who has chosen to attend the trial since it kicked off in Lower Manhattan on Monday — left for Florida after Wednesday’s lunch break, CNN reported.
Trump was slated to go straight to the airport to head back to Mar-a-Lago, a source told the outlet.
It was not immediately clear if or when Trump would return to court, though he has said he would testify should he be called to the witness stand.
Engoron seemed in a lighter mood after the lunch break and cracked a joke about AG attorney Kevin Wallace’s birthday, saying: “Today is a very important day.”
When James — who has attended the whole trial so far — returned after lunch, she said that “the Trump show is over.”
James said Trump’s appearance at the civil trial — which he’s not required to attend, unlike in criminal cases — was a “political stunt” and a “fundraising stop.”
“I will not be bullied,” the AG said of the former president’s repeated personal attacks on her. “Justice will be served.”
In the afternoon, the AG’s Office interrupted Bender’s testimony to take a witness out of turn.
Camron Harris, an auditor at accounting firm Whitley Penn who handled Trump’s books in 2020, testified in the afternoon that “the client’s responsible” for the statement of financial condition – documents which James claims Trump lied on from 2011 through 2021.
Harris testified that Eric Trump — another defendant in the case who was present in the courtroom in the morning — “set the tone at the top” for the board of trustees at the Trump Organization.
Bender continued testifying after Harris’ testimony wrapped.
Trump’s appearance at the 60 Centre Street courthouse prompted protesters to come out in force Monday morning — even blocking a street outside.
The former president has taken every opportunity in front of press and on social media to bash the case, the attorney general, the judge, and even the judge’s clerk — which prompted Engoron to issue a limited gag order Tuesday afternoon.
Coming into court Wednesday, Trump went on a three-minute rant ripping James for allegedly using the prosecution against him in her failed bid for governor.
“This is a railroading and it’s the beginning of communism in our country,” Trump said.
He also didn’t rule out the possibility of becoming the next speaker of the House after calls from some Republicans following the ouster of Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday.
“A lot of people have been calling me about speaker. All I can say is we’ll do whatever is best for the country and the Republican Party,” he said before walking into the courtroom.
Upon leaving, Trump again went on a tirade for several minutes, saying the case was “rigged.”
The defense filed a notice of appeal on Wednesday of Engoron’s bombshell ruling from last week siding with the AG on one of her main claims that Trump should be liable for fraud.
The decision also canceled Trump’s business licenses in the state.
The AG’s Office argued in opening statements that Trump exaggerated his assets for years to get an edge on loans and insurance and also for his vanity’s sake so that he could climb Forbes’ list of billionaires.
Trump has subsequently been dropped from the list.
Trump’s lawyers argued that their client paid back all of the loans he took out for the Trump Organization and that the banks made millions off his business.