Former President Donald Trump has not been shy in expressing his frustrations with the ongoing civil fraud trial in New York, but neither has the presiding judge, for that matter, as New York Justice Arthur Engoron has also voiced his displeasure with how the trial is going thus far.
In fact, Judge Engoron reportedly lost his temper and repeatedly berated and chastised Trump's attorneys for allegedly engaging in deliberate delay tactics during Wednesday's proceedings, according to Salon.
The in-court outburst from the judge followed repeated and highly critical diatribes from the former president just outside the courtroom during breaks in which he called Engoron a "disgrace" to the judicial profession and suggested he should be "disbarred" or even "charged criminally" for the overtly biased manner in which the case has been handled.
According to a rundown of the proceedings in the courtroom by Daily Beast reporter Jose Pagliery, Judge Engoron lost his cool and proclaimed "Jesus!" as an expletive in response to the exceptionally thorough and time-consuming cross-examination of a former Trump accountant by Trump's defense attorneys.
The questioning by attorney Jesus Suarez involved going line-by-line and year-by-year about the specifics and values of numerous Trump-owned properties between 2011 and 2020, which Engoron asserted was a deliberate stalling tactic and waste of time while Trump's attorneys insisted it was necessary due to unanswered questions about the statute of limitations cut-off date and how that relates to some of the claims against the former president and his family business.
The judge at one point asked the attorneys to "lump this all together" and ask a single question for each year, and though Suarez was said to have agreed to do so, and fellow defense attorney Chris Kise vowed to try to "streamline" the process, Suarez reportedly continued to ask lengthy questions about each property in each year, prompting additional condemnation from Engoron.
"I don't talk just to hear myself. I'm precluding you from doing this," Engoron said at another point, and later added, "You're not allowed to waste time. That is what this is becoming." When Kise again insisted that they were trying to speed things up, the judge snapped back, "Doesn't seem like that yet!" and, slamming his hand on the bench, fully enunciated how "ri-di-cu-lous" the whole thing had become.
According to Pagliery, that prompted Kise to adopt a "condescending" tone toward the judge as he explained the laboriously lengthy questioning was necessary to fully establish the court's record, clearly implying that the matter would eventually be appealed and dealt with by a higher court -- after which Engoron later stated, "I have a thick skin, but it's really being pierced here."
In the days prior to that tense exchange, the Daily Mail reported that former President Trump went on multiple tirades against Judge Engoron and New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the $250 million lawsuit central to the trial that aims to financially ruin Trump's business and real estate empire.
"This is a judge that should be disbarred. This is a judge that should be out of office," Trump said Monday with regard to Engoron's pretrial ruling that he was liable for fraud. "This is a judge that some people say could be charged criminally for what he's doing. He's interfering with an election, and it's a disgrace."
At another point, Trump renewed his rhetorical assault on the judge and declared, "This guy's getting away with murder," before turning his attention to Engoron's chief law clerk who has played a prominent role in the proceedings thus far, and said of her, "And his clerk should not be allowed to be in his ear with every single question. You should take a look at her. She hates Trump even more than he does."
The comments about the clerk, as well as a since-deleted picture of her posted to social media on Tuesday, resulted in an outraged rebuke from Judge Engoron and the imposition of a limited gag order on all participants to prevent any further mention of court staffers, according to Forbes.
Yet, even with that limited gag order in place, Trump has continued to rant angrily against the "Trump-hating" judge and prosecutors -- though he has refrained from further mention of the clerk -- both on social media as well as to reporters gathered outside the courtroom during breaks in the proceedings.
The question now becomes whether Judge Engoron will expand the gag order to also prohibit any additional criticism of the court, prosecutors, or himself, and if so, whether he would be willing to act punitively -- ranging from a warning to a fine to imprisonment -- if Trump were to defy such a censorious order.