The civil fraud trial of Donald J. Trump has been punctuated by tense moments in court, the former president’s impromptu statements outside of it — and his unusual appearance on the witness stand, much earlier than anticipated.
Here’s a look at the highlights of the first month of a trial that has focused on accusations that Mr. Trump and his family business inflated the value of his assets to secure favorable loans.
Ends for the former president.
Mr. Trump has twice run afoul of a narrow gag order placed on him by the judge in the case, Arthur F. Engoron, who has fined him a total of $15,000 for attacking a member of the court staff.
Justice Engoron imposed his order on Oct. 3, the second day of the trial, after the former president assailed his law clerk, Allison Greenfield, on social media. Mr. Trump posted a picture of her with Senator Chuck Schumer, accusing her of partisanship and saying she was “running this case against me.”
Although the order is limited, Mr. Trump violated it twice in less than a week. The first violation appeared to be inadvertent: A version of the social media post remained on Mr. Trump’s campaign website for weeks. When Justice Engoron discovered that it was still up, he fined the former president $5,000 — a nominal sum that came with a warning that further violations could mean harsher punishments.
Then, last week, Mr. Trump went further: “This judge is a very partisan judge,” he told reporters. “With a person who’s very partisan sitting alongside of him — perhaps even much more partisan than he is.”
Justice Engoron interpreted that remark to again be a reference to Ms. Greenfield, although Mr. Trump denied it, saying instead that it was a reference to Michael D. Cohen — his former fixer, who was testifying against Mr. Trump that day.
A former fixer takes the stand.
Over the first month of the trial, the most closely watched testimony came from Mr. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s one-time lawyer who has criticized him on television, in social media posts and with his own book.
Mr. Cohen spent two days on the stand testifying that Mr. Trump had lied about the value of his properties. He also acknowledged telling lies of his own — although he swore it had been “at the direction of, in concert with and for the benefit of Mr. Trump.”
Sitting at the defense table, Mr. Trump struggled to contain his anger during Mr. Cohen’s testimony. He folded his arms tightly across his chest and tossed his head and scowled.
In his testimony, Mr. Cohen said that Mr. Trump had directed him to “reverse engineer” annual financial statements to achieve the former president’s desired net worth. Mr. Cohen spoke calmly and confidently as he recounted Mr. Trump’s obsession with his net worth.
During cross-examination, Mr. Trump’s lawyers seized on Mr. Cohen’s inconsistent statements about the former president and his own crimes, leading him to admit to having lied a number of times. At one point, Mr. Cohen appeared flustered as he tripped over rapid-fire questions about whether Mr. Trump had personally directed him to inflate numbers on his annual financial statements. Mr. Cohen said he had not, prompting Mr. Trump and one of his lawyers, Alina Habba, to throw their hands up in victory.
Outside the courtroom, Mr. Trump declared that Mr. Cohen had been “proven to be a liar.”
Trump took the stand unexpectedly.
After Mr. Trump’s comments outside the courtroom about the “partisan” person sitting next to him, Justice Engoron called the former president to the stand — a surprise appearance by Mr. Trump, who is expected to testify later this month.
Justice Engoron wanted to question Mr. Trump directly about his comment, to determine whether it was another violation of the gag order.
From the stand, Mr. Trump, wearing a navy suit and curtailing his usual monologue, insisted that his comments in a courthouse hallway had been about Mr. Cohen, not the judge’s law clerk, Ms. Greenfield.
But, Mr. Trump added, he thought Ms. Greenfield was “maybe unfair, and I think she’s very biased against us.”
It was a brief appearance — only about three minutes — and did not sway the judge. “I find that the witness is not credible,” Justice Engoron said, and levied the fine as Mr. Trump stared blankly ahead.