Trump’s Volatile Courtroom Conduct Could Be Dangerous for His Upcoming Criminal Trials
From the beginning of the $250 million civil fraud trial in New York against Donald Trump, the former president has earned himself a gag order, a fine for breaching it, and another fine for violating it once more. He has left the courtroom abruptly and has taken a stand only to answer no questions but admonish both the judges and the attorney general.
Though his demeanor — defiant, irritated, and even unruly — is unsurprising, it is most likely only a taste of things to come as the former president is set to face multiple criminal trials ahead, per POLITICO.
While he may have converted his trial onto a political campaign trail, many legal experts seem to believe it's unwise. “Trump generally believes that speaking helps his cause,” trial attorney Bernard Alexander told Salon. “It might not be wise from a legal perspective, but the receptiveness of Trump’s true audience defies logic.”
“While Trump's testimony certainly did not help his legal case, it may have helped his political case in the eyes of his supporters,” Gregory Germain, Syracuse University law professor, said. “Indeed, Trump's claim that the attorney general's case is politically motivated resonates with people who do not even support Trump.”
Already, Trump has turned the New York fraud trial into a stopgap political gig, even including some of his signature lines from stump speeches in his testimony. However, the spectacle surrounding the fraud trial will appear something like a sideshow in light of the impending criminal proceedings. In comparison with the comparatively easygoing procedures of the civil fraud case, the stakes will be higher, the political climate will be hotter, and the constraints on Trump's behavior will be more stringent.
The main distinction between Trump's fraud trial and his criminal trials is that the former is a bench trial, while the latter will all be jury trials. Judges often expect rigorous decorum when jurors are present. Bench trials typically take place in more laid-back settings, something Trump has exploited in the fraud case. “If a jury was there, Trump would have been done,” Christian said. “You cannot allow a jury to hear that. You have to keep calling the jury out of the room all day long,” she said. “Trump would have been warned, then sanctioned, then held in contempt.”
Trump would also be required to attend all the hearings if it's a criminal trial, something he may find difficult in the middle of his presidential bid. Additionally, Trump will not be permitted to leave the courtroom whenever he pleases, as he did in the fraud case recently after Michael Cohen testified.
Trump has converted the Manhattan courthouse into his private briefing room in New York, talking about witness evidence, the recent battle for speaker of the House, and—possibly most frequently—attacks on Engeron, the trial judge & Letitia James. There will probably be more detailed restrictions on Trump's actions as well.
Today's Trump civil fraud trial testimony was important in its own right & because of what it forecasts: his coming criminal trials & their outcomes— Norm Eisen (norm.eisen on Threads) (@NormEisen) November 7, 2023
I discussed on @CNNSitRoom w @wolfblitzer @thelauracoates @GloriaBorger @JohnKingCNN pic.twitter.com/FkkgUFICy4
For the duration of his two federal criminal prosecutions, none of this conduct will be permitted. Federal courthouses frequently forbid unofficial gatherings even in the absence of cameras and forbid news cameras from anywhere within.
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