USA: Scandal in Trump trial: Judge orders courtroom cleared

The witness's behavior angered the judge so much that he promptly cleared the courtroom. He did not allow any comments on his decisions.

The trial against former US President Donald Trump in connection with hush money payments to a porn star has come to a head. Judge Juan Merchan lost his temper when questioning the defense witness Robert Costello in New York because he appeared to question Merchan's decisions. Costello, who was supposed to discredit the key witness Michael Cohen, repeatedly answered questions to which Merchan had previously allowed the prosecution to object. The judge instructed the witness – Costello is himself a lawyer – that he was not allowed to answer in such cases. In response to an objection that was upheld, Costello then audibly said “Jeesh” – which can be translated roughly as “Oh my God”. Merchan then had the jurors removed from the courtroom and said to Trump ally Costello: “I want to talk about proper decency in my courtroom.” He did not want any comments on his decisions.

When Costello continued to scowl at the judge, Merchan burst out in audible annoyance: “Are you staring at me?” He then had the courtroom cleared – with the help of loud and sharp instructions from the courtroom staff. Journalists and observers were allowed to re-enter room 1530 after a few minutes and the questioning continued.