01:37 - Source: CNN
Reporter details moment that got a laugh from Trump in court
Washington CNN  — 

Former President Donald Trump delivered a barrage of false claims to media cameras this week as he entered and exited the Manhattan courtroom where he is on trial on charges of falsifying business records in relation to a hush money scheme during the 2016 presidential election.

Here’s a fact check of four of the claims he made about the trial. (For this particular article, we’ll leave aside the false claims he made in the courthouse about a variety of other subjects.)

Courthouse security

After The New York Times published a story that said Trump was unhappy with the meager crowd he saw when he arrived at the courthouse for opening statements on Monday, Trump told reporters inside the courthouse on Tuesday: “For blocks you can’t get near this courthouse.”

He added on social media on Tuesday: “Thousands of people were turned away from the Courthouse in Lower Manhattan by steel stanchions and police, literally blocks from the tiny side door from where I enter and leave. It is an armed camp to keep people away.” And he said in comments inside the courthouse on Thursday: “This courthouse is locked down; there’s not a person within five blocks.”

Facts FirstTrump’s claims are all false. The police have not turned away “thousands of people” from the courthouse. And while there are various security measures in place in the area, including some street closures enforced by police officers and barricades, it’s not true that “this courthouse is locked down,” that “for blocks you can’t get near this courthouse” or that “there’s not a person within five blocks.” In reality, there is a designated protest zone for the trial at a park directly across the street from the courthouse – and people are permitted to drive right up to the front of the courthouse and walk into the building, which remains open to the public. If people show up early enough in the morning, they can even get into the trial courtroom itself or the overflow room that shows near-live video of the proceedings. 

The reality is that few of Trump’s supporters have chosen to show up. There were well under 100 visible Trump supporters gathered in the protest zone at the outset of the trial in mid-April, and there have often been three or fewer there on subsequent days, according to CNN journalists who have been reporting from the courthouse area.

You can read more here.

Michael Cohen’s crimes and Trump

On Monday, Trump said upon leaving the courtroom that the crimes committed by his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen “had nothing to do with me.”

Cohen is expected to be a key witness for the prosecution. Trump said: “The things he got in trouble for were things that had nothing to do with me. He got in trouble; he went to jail. This has nothing to do with me. This had to do with the taxicab company that he owned, which is just something he owned – and medallions and borrowing money and a lot of things – but it had nothing to do with me.”

Facts First: Trump’s claim that Cohen’s prison sentence “had nothing to do with me” is false. Cohen’s three-year sentence in 2018 was for multiple crimes, some of which were directly related to Trump. Most notably, Cohen was sentenced for campaign finance offenses connected to a hush money scheme during the 2016 presidential campaign to conceal Trump’s alleged extramarital relationships – the same hush money scheme that is central to this prosecution against Trump. Cohen was also sentenced to two months in prison, to run concurrently with the three-year sentence, for lying to Congress in 2017 in relation to previous talks about the possibility of building a Trump Tower in Moscow, Russia, including about the extent of Trump’s involvement in the aborted Moscow initiative and about when in 2016 the discussions ended. (The discussions continued into June 2016, the month after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, and did not conclude in January 2016 before the first votes were cast, as Cohen had claimed.)

Referring to Trump as “Individual-1,” Cohen said at the time of his 2018 guilty plea for making false statements to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: “I made these statements to be consistent with Individual-1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual-1.” When Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to the campaign finance violations, he said he broke the law “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” Trump.

The gag order on Trump

Upon leaving the courtroom on Tuesday, Trump approached the cameras, began talking, and complained that he is “not allowed to talk.”

Trump was criticizing Judge Juan Merchan’s gag order on him. Merchan had held a hearing on Tuesday morning to consider prosecutors’ allegations that Trump violated the gag order with a series of online posts, including some in which the presumptive Republican presidential nominee shared others’ articles related to the case on social media.

Trump claimed, “Can’t even allow articles to be put in.” He claimed the articles he is referring to say “the case is a sham.” He added, “I don’t even know if you’re allowed to put them in.” He also claimed that although others are permitted to lie and speak about him, “I’m not allowed to say anything.”

“I’d love to talk to you people, I’d love to say everything that’s on my mind, but I’m restricted because I have a gag order,” Trump said.

Facts FirstAs he has before, Trump made Merchan’s gag order sound far broader than it is. The gag order does not prohibit Trump from declaring the case a sham or from sharing others’ claims that the case is a sham. It also does not prohibit Trump from speaking to the media about the case, from defending his conduct at issue in the case, from denouncing the judge and district attorney involved in the case, or from campaigning for the presidency with speeches, media interviews and online posts. 

Rather, the gag order forbids Trump from three specific categories of speech:

1) Speaking publicly or directing others to speak publicly about known or foreseeable witnesses, specifically about their participation in the case

2) Speaking publicly or directing others to speak publicly about prosecutors (other than Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg), members of the district attorney’s staff and the court staff, or family members of any of these people including Bragg, if those statements are made with the intent to interfere with the case

3) Speaking publicly or directing others to speak publicly about jurors or prospective jurors

In his comments on Tuesday, Trump made the point that an article may have a certain headline that generally denounces the case but, “somewhere deep” in the body of the text, may mention somebody’s name he is not permitted to mention because of the gag order.

It’s not clear how Merchan would view Trump having shared an article in which, say, a witness’s name was only mentioned deep in the text. To date, though, articles that prosecutors have alleged Trump violated the gag order by sharing featured headlines that made it entirely clear the articles discussed likely witness Cohen.

Biden and the case

On Tuesday, Trump said upon leaving the courtroom: “By the way, this trial is all Biden. You know, this is all Biden, just in case anybody has any question.” He added, “He’s the one that has us in all these different lawsuits.” He said upon his departure Friday: “This is all a Biden indictment.”

Facts First: There is no basis for Trump’s claims. There is no evidence that Biden has had any role in launching or running Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prosecution - and Bragg is a locally elected official who does not report to the federal government. The indictment in the case was approved by a grand jury of ordinary citizens.

Trump has repeatedly invoked a lawyer on Bragg’s team, Matthew Colangelo, while making such claims; Colangelo left the Justice Department in 2022 to join the district attorney’s office as senior counsel to Bragg. But there is no evidence that Biden had anything to do with Colangelo’s employment decision. Colangelo and Bragg had been colleagues before Bragg was elected Manhattan district attorney in 2021.

Before Colangelo worked at the Justice Department, he and Bragg worked at the same time in the office of New York’s state attorney general, where Colangelo investigated Trump’s charity and Trump’s financial practices and was involved in bringing various lawsuits against the Trump administration.