Emotions boiled over last Thursday during the New York state civil fraud trial involving former President Donald Trump. Here’s what happened.
During a sidebar conversation, Colleen Faherty, a lawyer representing New York Attorney General Letitia James, told Trump’s attorney, Christopher Kise, “be more respectful!”
“No,” Kise answered.
“That was rude,” Faherty responded.
Off the Record
The sidebar argument took place off the record, “meaning a court stenographer did not take notes as lawyers for the state and members of Trump’s defense team squared off at the judge’s bench before the day’s testimony began,” Business Insider reported. But two sources familiar with the incident spoke with Insider, painting a fuller picture of what transpired between the two attorneys.
“The sides were called to the bench of New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron to discuss a letter sent by the AG’s offices to the judge that was made public earlier in the morning,” Insider reported. “In the letter, the state accused the Trump Organization of failing to turn over emails concerning Trump’s triplex apartment. It said the emails have been newly brought to light as missing from the trial evidence, and should have been among the corporate records turned [over] two years ago … to an AG subpoena.”
In the letter, the AG’s team requested that the Trump Organization submit to a search for the lost emails. During the sidebar, Kise protested the email search. Twice, Kise ignored questions from Engoron’s top law clerk, Allison Greenfield, saying that he only took questions from Justice Engoron. Then, Kise accused the AG’s team of possessing an ulterior motive for looking through the emails, “even suggesting that the state was fishing for evidence it could use in examining Trump fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen on the witness stand next week.”
Faherty insisted that the AG had no ulterior motive for pursuing the emails. Kise then suggested that Faherty lacked the brain power to gauge whether there was an ulterior motive. That’s when Faherty said, “Be more respectful!”
When Kise refused, and Faherty commented that he was rude, Engoron raised both hands, gesturing for both parties to be quiet and calm down.
Asked later about the exchange, Kise didn’t say much – only that he had not been accused of being rude. However, multiple reporters in the audience did in fact hear Kise called rude.
“The trial, at which the state seeks to permanently bar Trump and his real-estate company from doing business in New York, is in its third week,” Insider reported. “Tensions between the two sides have boiled over repeatedly in open court at the non-jury trial.”
The tension is understandable. The entire world is watching, waiting for an outcome to the trial, which features prominently Donald Trump – who may be the most recognizable, the most notorious and divisive human on the planet.
The trial is being watched closely; despite the high stakes of the civil trial, it is something of a prelude to the upcoming criminal trials facing the former President. The aggregate of all the cases is expected to impact the 2024 presidential election, which of course will impact just about everything that follows.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.