A woman has been taken into custody after trying to approach former President Donald Trump on Wednesday during his civil fraud trial in New York.
“I want to speak to Mr. Trump,” she told a court officer as she tried to go up to him during witness testimony in the New York attorney general’s $250 million civil action against the former president. Trump was sitting at the defense table a few feet away. The woman told the court officer she was there to support him.
The officer told her to sit back down in the audience, and she did. A few minutes later she was approached by another court officer who told her she had to leave, which she initially questioned before complying. She left with several court officers behind her.
Trump did not appear to see the incident, which took place behind where he was sitting.
Outside of the courtroom, the woman told the officers they were “scaring” her. “I have a right to be here. I’m an American citizen, I’m also just here to support Donald Trump,” she said, before complaining the officers were “attacking me.”
She was then taken into custody and charged with contempt of court in the second degree for disrupting a court proceeding.
A spokesperson for the state Office of Court Administration told NBC New York in a statement that the woman is a court employee, and has been placed on administrative leave pending investigation.
Asked about the incident as he was leaving court, Trump said, “We don’t know anything about it. You know who should be arrested? You know who should be arrested? The attorney general should be arrested for what she’s doing.”
New York State Attorney General Letitia James told reporters after Wednesday’s trial proceedings that the courtroom is “where we have submitted evidence and the evidence is clear. And that is that he has inflated his statements of financial interests to enrich himself and his family. And nothing will change that. Not the attacks on me or anyone.”
It was Trump’s second day in a row this week attending the trial, in which he and his company are alleged to have grossly overvalued their assets in financial statements to banks and insurance companies in order to get loans and policies at better rates than they were entitled to.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
After fairly dry testimony regarding the Trump Organization’s accounting practices on Tuesday, the trial got heated at times on Wednesday, with Trump’s lawyer accusing a witness of lying and the attorney general’s office accusing them of “witness intimidation.”
The heated back and forths came during team Trump’s cross-examination of Doug Larson, a former executive at the commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.
At one point, Kevin Wallace of the AG’s office complained that Trump was being too loud. “I would ask the defendant to stop making comments during the witness testimony,” Wallace said, adding, “I believe there are exhortations being made.”
Judge Arthur Engoron said he “will ask everyone to be quiet during the witness testimony.”
Under questioning from the AG’s office Tuesday, Larson said Trump Organization officials had cited appraisals of Trump properties he’d done for banks in their financial statements, but used a lower cap rate to claim the properties were more valuable than Cushman had estimated.
He also testified about Trump documents claiming they’d consulted with Larson about the valuations on certain years, which he said didn’t happen. He said he “never” worked for the Trump Organization and called its use of his work without his knowledge “inappropriate” and their figures “inaccurate.”
On Wednesday, Trump’s attorneys asked Larson about emails showing he’d discussed some of the valuations with Jeff McConney, a former senior vice president at Trump’s company.
“You lied yesterday, didn’t you?” Trump attorney Lazaro Fields asked, leading to an objection from the attorney general’s office.
Another Trump lawyer, Christopher Kise, said Larson had “perjured himself.”
Kise said he was worried that Larson could be in legal jeopardy, and suggested the AG’s office should be too. “Whether they’re concerned about his rights or not, I certainly am,” Kise said.
An attorney for the AG’s office said the emails in question were for different years than the ones Larson was testifying about Tuesday, and that Trump’s lawyers were putting on “a performance.”
“This is witness intimidation, your honor,” said the AG’s lawyer, Colleen Flaherty.
Trump appeared happy about the exchange talking to reporters during a break.
“This was like Perry Mason,” he said, referring to a 1950s TV show about a criminal defense lawyer.
“The government lied, they just lied. They didn’t reveal all of the information that they had,” Trump said.