June 13, 2024
Money

Hush money trial returns after court erupted when Judge Merchan scolded witness Robert Costello for ‘staring’ him down


DailyMail.com’s Nick Allen recaps the showdown between Bob Costello and Judge Juan Merchan from inside the courtroom

There were astonishing scenes at Donald Trump’s hush money trial on Monday – and for once it had little to do with the former president.

The drama began to unfold as Trump lawyer Emile Bove questioned a defense witness, Bob Costello, and Judge Juan Merchan repeatedly upheld objections from the prosecution.

Before Bove had even finished his questions there would be a quiet ‘objection’ from the prosecutor, followed a split second later by ‘sustained’ from the judge.

After yet another ‘sustained’ Costello became exasperated at not being able to answer, and said ‘Jeez..’

The judge, a few feet away, bent his head forward toward Costello and said in an irritated voice ‘Sorry?…Sorry?…What did you say?’

Costello did not answer and looked away, appearing to mumble something inaudible.

At another point when the judge yet again said ‘sustained’ Costello, a former prosecutor himself, followed up by saying ‘strike it…’ to the jury.

The increasingly annoyed judge then asked Bove to stop his questioning and directly addressed Costello.

In a forthright voice, he said: ‘I want to discuss proper decorum in my courtroom…

‘If you don’t like my ruling, you don’t say ‘Jeez’. You don’t give me side eye, and you don’t roll your eyes.

‘You don’t say ‘strike it’ because I’m the only one who can strike testimony in my court.’

After the brief lecture, Costello appeared to momentarily look back at Judge Merchan, who then exploded in a fury.

Appearing incredulous, Judge Merchan said to Costello: ‘Are you staring me down right now?’

Costello was silent and looked away.

After a moment’s pause, the judge then loudly ordered: ‘Clear the courtroom!’

Court officers were momentarily stunned and nobody moved.

The officers then started yelling at members of the public and press to ‘clear the courtroom’ and they were ushered out.

Members of the media objected but were taken out into a hallway next to some crash barriers.

People in Mr Trump’s entourage, including his son Eric, were allowed to stay inside the court.

When the media returned, after several minutes, Costello was still on the stand but looked a little redder in the face.

It could only be surmised that he had received a severe tongue-lashing from the clearly irate judge.

Judge Merchan, now fully the master of his own courtroom, continued to sustain objections and Costello studiously avoided looking at him or showing any dissent.



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