A spectator at Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial was arrested Wednesday after standing up in the middle of testimony and walking toward the front of the courtroom where the former president sat.
The woman expressed a desire to aid Trump, and the court system said that neither he nor anyone else at the trial was ever in danger. The ex-president and 2024 GOP front-runner showed no reaction in court and later told reporters he wasn’t aware of the episode that had unfolded behind him.
“Who got arrested?” Trump asked. “We didn’t know anything about it.”
The woman, later identified as a court system employee, retreated after a court officer told her to return to her seat. A short time later, officers escorted her out and arrested her on a contempt charge for disrupting a court proceeding, court spokesperson Lucian Chalfen said.
Chalfen said the woman had been yelling out to Trump that she wanted to help him, though reporters in the courtroom did not hear her raise her voice. She was later heard screaming in the courthouse lobby as officers removed her from the building.
Outside the courtroom, the woman was seen on an NBC camera telling court officers: “You’re scaring me, and I have a right to be here. I’m an American citizen, and I’m also a court employee. I’m also just here to support Donald Trump.”
She went on to say that she had been “peacefully watching this proceeding” and had complied when a court officer told her not to cause “any more problems.”
Chalfen said the woman, whose name wasn’t released, has been placed on administrative leave and barred from entering state courts while authorities investigate.
The case, brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, accuses Trump and his company of duping banks and insurers by giving them heavily inflated statements of Trump’s net worth and asset values. Engoron has already ruled that Trump and his company committed fraud, but the trial involves remaining claims of conspiracy, insurance fraud and falsifying business records.
James maintains that Trump’s financial statements were key to securing deals and loans, and witnesses and evidence presented at trial have indicated that the documents were a factor.
For example, a 2015 offer to refinance a Trump-owned Wall Street building came with terms that included “delivery of financial statements (including tax returns)” from Trump, according to a document shown in court Wednesday.
While the deal was in the works, the Trump Organization sent prospective lender Ladder Capital paper copies of Trump’s financial statements and personal tax returns, Ladder executive Jack Weisselberg testified, adding that a Trump executive messaged him about when to expect the documents.
“I think they were concerned about confidentiality, and they wanted to make sure it was going directly into my hands,” said Weisselberg, who’s the son of former longtime Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg.
Trump denies all James’ allegations. He says his assets were actually worth far more than claimed on his statements, which came with disclaimers that he portrays as telling people to vet the numbers themselves.
Engoron will decide the case, not a jury, because state law doesn’t allow one in this type of lawsuit.