Donald Trump swept out of his $250 million New York civil fraud trial on Wednesday, a move that apparently left his Secret Service detail scrambling to follow him and those who remained in the courtroom, including his own lawyers, stunned.
Trump’s dramatic exit was made as Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney, was testifying on the stand. Under cross-examination, Cohen denied that Trump had ever asked him to inflate numbers on his personal statement—standing by his 2019 congressional testimony.
Trump and one of his lawyers, Alina Habba, “threw up their arms” at this, according to CNN. Another Trump attorney then asked Judge Arthur Engoron for a directed verdict on the case, given Cohen’s status as a key witness.
“Absolutely denied,” Engoron replied, citing evidence “all over the place” supporting New York Attorney General Letitia James’ case against Trump.
The former president was “visibly angry” as he immediately stood up and stormed out, CNBC reported, eliciting gasps from the room.
Outside, Trump told reporters, “The witness just admitted that we won the trial,” according to NBC News. “And the judge should end this trial immediately.”
Cohen later clarified on the stand that Trump didn’t directly order him to inflate numbers. “He speaks like a mob boss,” Cohen said.
The diva moment wasn’t Trump’s first headline-making headache of the day. Less than an hour earlier, Engoron had slapped him with a $10,000 penalty for violating an order not to talk about court staff.
The decision came after the judge put Trump on the witness stand for about a minute, asking him under oath to explain comments he’d made to reporters earlier that day, complaining about a “very partisan judge with a person who’s very partisan sitting alongside him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is.”
Engoron took that as a reference to his clerk, Allison Greenfield, who sits next to him in court. (A gag order blocking Trump from targeting Engoron’s staff was imposed after he wrote a blistering Truth Social post about Greenfield on the second day of the trial.)
But Trump insisted he had been referring to Cohen, who’d already been on the stand—on Engoron’s other side—at that point in the day.
The judge said he didn’t find this explanation “credible,” and handed down the fine.