‘Don’t give me side eye’: Judge gets furious with Trump witness – BBC News

‘Don’t give me side eye’: Judge gets furious with Trump witness – BBC News
  • By Madeline Halpert
  • BBC News, at the courthouse in New York

Video caption, Trump trial: Cohen says he stole and a witness angers the judge

The judge in Donald Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial cleared the courtroom on Monday to reprimand a witness and ally of the former president.

Robert Costello, a lawyer who once gave legal advice to Mr Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, was the second witness called by Mr Trump’s legal team.

Mr Costello has been an outspoken critic of the case against Mr Trump, who has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony charges of falsifying business records in relation to a hush-money payment.

On Monday, Mr Costello appeared to take his frustrations with him to the witness stand.

BBC News reporters are in the Manhattan courtroom covering the historic first criminal trial of a former US president. You’ll find their updates and analysis on the BBC news website and app, and across TV, radio and podcasts.

“Jeez,” Mr Costello sighed into the microphone as Justice Juan Merchan repeatedly sustained objections from prosecutors, cutting off his responses.

“I’m sorry?” the judge immediately responded in a frustrated tone.

From that point on, things only escalated as Mr Costello later appeared to groan at more objections, and long sidebars between lawyers and the judge.

Justice Merchan, apparently hitting his limit, asked jurors to leave the room so he could discuss “proper decorum in my courtroom” with Mr Costello.

With the jurors out of sight, Justice Merchan began to chastise the former federal prosecutor who Cohen said served as a back channel, connecting him with Mr Trump and the White House in 2018.

“You don’t say ‘jeez’. And then if you don’t like my ruling, you don’t give me side eye, and you don’t roll your eyes,” he told the witness.

Mr Costello seemed to make a face at Justice Merchan as he scolded him, sparking another fiery response from the judge.

“Are you staring me down?” he barked shortly.

“Clear the courtroom,” Justice Merchan said, prompting court officers to shout at the dozens of members of the public and reporters to leave immediately.

Some journalists objected to being kicked out of the public proceedings, but ultimately obeyed as officers shooed people from the room.

Reporters stood stunned in the hallway for several minutes before officers allowed everyone back into the room.

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