Donald J. Trump began his testimony Monday before a packed Manhattan courtroom, filled with onlookers. They had come to witness the spectacle of a former US president taking the witness stand at trial to defend his family business and his reputation as a real estate mogul.
Before the civil trial even began, the judge in the case, Justice Arthur Engoron, ruled that Mr. Trump had fraudulently misvalued his properties for years and revoked his licenses to operate those in New York — a ruling that has been appealed.
The trial, which is in its sixth week, will determine how much more Mr. Trump should be penalized. New York’s attorney general is asking that the judge impose a $250 million penalty, and that the former president be permanently barred from running a business in the state.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued that his annual financial statements were merely estimates, and that differing valuations were standard in the real estate business.
Here is a closer look at the scene inside the courtroom through a photograph taken Monday just before Mr. Trump took the stand.
Donald J. Trump
Since the trial began on Oct. 2, the former president has been a frequent spectator, although he is not required to be present every day. He typically sits at the defense table when he does show up, between two of his lawyers, Alina Habba and Christopher M. Kise. On Monday, he moved from his usual spot to the witness stand to testify.
He made a surprise appearance on the stand last month, when Justice Engoron questioned him for a few minutes about comments he had made to reporters outside the courtroom. (Afterward, the judge issued a fine of $10,000 against Mr. Trump, finding that he had violated a gag order barring him from making public statements about the judge’s staff.)
While Monday was the first time he was testifying about matters at the core of the case, the trial had previously unleashed a roller coaster of reactions from Mr. Trump. Earlier in the trial, he had sometimes rolled his eyes at the judge, or struggled to contain his anger, including during the testimony of his former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen. At duller points, he had yawned or appeared bored.
On Monday, Justice Engoron criticized Mr. Trump several times, asking him to keep his remarks short. Later on, Mr. Trump lashed out at both Ms. James and Justice Engoron from the witness stand.
The office of Ms. James, New York State’s attorney general, is bringing the fraud case against the Trump family and the Trump Organization. Ms. James has often been spotted in the front row of the courtroom, especially on days when the former president is also present at the trial. Sometimes in the mornings before trial begins, she can be seen speaking cordially with one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Mr. Kise. On Monday, she told reporters, “I think it’s going to be an interesting day. But numbers and facts matter.”
There are more security personnel present on the days when the former president is in the courtroom. On Monday, court officers slowly patrolled the aisles, with Secret Service agents and other security seated on both sides of the courtroom.
On most days of the trial, the majority of the spectators seated on the benches appear to be reporters. As is often the case during high-profile trials in New York City, there are occasionally members of the public and tourists who have come to watch the spectacle. A group of Justice Engoron’s friends are also regular attendees.