Trump attorneys were denied Wednesday when they asked for an immediate and direct verdict in the Trump Organization civil trial following testimony from ex-attorney Michael Cohen.
Cohen admitted during testimony that the former president did not ask him to inflate his finances on a personal financial statement.
The former president and 2024 GOP presidential frontrunner and his ex-attorney found themselves in the same courtroom for a second day in a row amid the civil trial stemming from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ years-long investigation into the Trump Organization and Trump family businesses.
During a second day on the stand, Cohen, Trump’s one-time friend, lawyer, and someone who once famously said he’d “take a bullet” for his client, was asked directly whether Trump asked him to inflate his finances on personal financial statements.
“Trump didn’t ask you to inflate the numbers on his personal statement, correct?” Trump attorney Clifford Roberts asked.
“Correct,” Cohen replied.
After Cohen’s response, Roberts spoke with the former president and fellow defense attorneys, and told Judge Arthur Engoron he had no further questions.
Roberts then asked for an immediate, direct verdict in the trial in light of Cohen’s testimony.
Engoron, though, immediately said: “denied.”
The trial stems from James’ lawsuit, in which she alleges that Trump and his company misled banks and others about the value of his assets. James said the Trump family, as well as his associates and businesses, committed “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation” on their financial statements. She also alleged that Trump “inflated his net worth by billions of dollars” and said his children helped him to do so.
Engoron, who is presiding over the non-jury trial, last month ruled that Trump and the Trump Organization committed fraud while building his real estate empire by deceiving banks, insurers and others by overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly said his assets were actually undervalued. Trump has repeatedly said his financial statements had disclaimers, requesting that the numbers be evaluated by the banks.
Meanwhile, during re-direct questioning by Colleen Faherty, an attorney in the New York attorney general’s office, offered Cohen an opportunity to expand on his answer.
“Trump did not specifically say, ‘Michael, go inflate the numbers,’” Cohen said, but claimed Trump “speaks like a mob boss,” and said he understood what Trump wanted.
Defense attorneys did not re-cross examine Cohen, and instead, again asked for a verdict.
“Absolutely denied,” Engoron said. “One witness, who I don’t consider to be the key witness… it’s absurd.”
He added: “No way, no how is this case is being dismissed. There is enough evidence in this case to fill this courtroom.”
Cohen had testified Tuesday that during his time at the Trump Organization he inflated the former president’s assets to “whatever number Trump told us to.”
Trump has blasted Cohen as a “proven liar,” and said he lied on the stand.
Cohen, in 2018, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, making false statements to Congress and tax evasion. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Trump, after proceedings Wednesday, again claimed Cohen was “caught lying, like no one has lied.”
“This should be the end of the case,” Trump said. “We’re being railroaded.”
Trump said again that Cohen “lied and he admitted he lied numerous times.”
Meanwhile, Engoron asked that the former president take the stand on Wednesday. He discussed statements Trump made to the press earlier in the day about “a person who’s very partisan sitting alongside” the judge.
When Engoron asked who Trump was referring to, the former president replied: “You and Cohen.”
The judge pressed him again, and asked if he was sure he was not referring to his clerk.
“Yes I’m sure,” Trump said.
Engoron said that, in the past, Trump had criticized and referred to his clerk.
“I think she’s very unfair,” Trump said, adding that she is “biased against us.”
But Engoron said his principal clerk “is very close to me,” and ruled that Trump was referring to his law clerk.
Engeron imposed a partial gag order earlier this month after Trump posted on his Truth Social account saying that Engoron’s law clerk had a relationship with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. The post also contained a photo. Trump added that because of that, the case “should be dismissed immediately.”
Trump told Engoron he had deleted the post, but the judge discovered a copy of the post remained on Trump’s campaign website. Engoron fined Trump $5,000 on Friday.
On Wednesday, Engoron moved to fine Trump $10,000, claiming he violated the gag order by making a derogatory statement against his law clerk.
Trump attorneys argued against the fine, saying it was unusual to have a law clerk on the bench with the judge. Attorney Alina Habba calling it “inappropriate.”
Habba said the clerk rolled her eyes, to which Habba said: “The influence from your bench is inappropriate.”
Engoron fired back saying: “I make the final decisions. I value input from both of my law clerks.”
Regarding the clerks sitting next to him, he said, “that’s how I do things.”
The civil trial will continue Thursday. It is unclear if Trump will attend in person.
Trump and Cohen’s face-off comes after Trump, earlier this month, voluntarily dismissed his lawsuit against Cohen but vowed to refile against him once he “prevailed” in the “witch hunts against him.”
Trump had sued Cohen for $500 million in April. The more than 30-page federal lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleging Cohen breached his attorney-client relationship by “spreading falsehoods” about Trump that were “likely to be embarrassing or detrimental, and partook in other misconduct” while also breaching contractual terms of a confidentiality agreement he signed as a condition of employment with Trump.
Meanwhile, as the court proceedings went on Wednesday, the former president was able to react to the House speaker race in the hallway, praising House Republicans for electing Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., to replace former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., after weeks of GOP gridlock.
“I just want to congratulate Mike Johnson. He will be a great speaker of the House and we were very happy to help,” Trump said in the hallway of the court. “I’ve known him for a long time and he is a tremendous leader…he’s going to make us all proud.”
Trump said “nobody was thinking about Mike,” and then “we put out the word, and now he is the speaker of the House.”
“So, I wanted to just thank all of the supporters that I have and I want to thank all of the supporters that Mike has,” Trump said. “Again, he will be a great speaker, I think you’re going to be very proud of him.”
Fox News’ Maria Paronich contributed to this report.
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