MAGA Rages At Treatment Of Trump Trial Witness Robert Costello

A number of MAGA and Republican figures have hit out at Judge Juan Merchan after he reprimanded a defense witness in Donald Trump‘s hush money trial.

The former president’s supporters are accusing Merchan of being “crooked” and “wanting Trump to go to jail” after he cleared the court room on Monday to address Robert Costello.

Costello testified in the falsifying business records trial in New York that the former president was not personally involved in the arrangement of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen paying adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep an alleged affair she had with Trump a secret ahead of the 2016 Election.

But Trump supporters say Merchan was trying to silence Costello, a former adviser to Cohen, because he was “sinking” the prosecution’s star witness.

Costello, an ally of Trump, was strongly rebuked by Merchan for expressing his frustrations at the proceedings while on the stand, including at one point saying “jeez” after the prosecution raised objections to his testimony.

Merchan then ordered everyone to leave while he lashed out at Costello for allegedly “staring” down the judge. “I’m putting you on notice that your conduct is contemptuous. If you try to stare me down one more time, I will remove you from the stand,” Merchan told Costello.

Donald Trump in New York
Donald Trump speaks after exiting Manhattan Criminal Court. MAGA and Republican figures have hit out at Judge Juan Merchan after he reprimanded defense witness Robert Costello on Monday.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

But Trump loyalists have accused Merchan of threatening to have Costello removed from the proceedings because he was threatening the prosecution’s case.

Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s eldest son, posted on X, formerly Twitter, while sharing a Fox News clip describing how Costello testified that Cohen said Trump “knew nothing” about the hush money payment: “Seems like a really big deal!

“Perhaps it explains in part why the judge cleared the court… the testimony is a disaster for the sham prosecution.”

Former Trump-endorsed Georgia state representative Vernon Jones posted: “It’s no question, judge Juan M. Merchan is clearly crooked and wants Trump to go to jail. He just cleared the court room because the defendant (sic) Bob Costello is sinking Michael Cohen. The judge is helping the prosecutors silence Costello.”

Costello is a defense witness. Donald Trump is the defendant.

Jones added: “It’s too obvious the judge hates Trump, and is in bed with [Manhattan DA] Alvin Bragg. Now I see why it’s not televised. The judge doesn’t want you to see his crookedness.”

Eric Trump, the second eldest of Trump’s sons, added: “The judge’s treatment of Bob Costello is truly disgraceful—he will not allow him to tell his story—the same story he told Congress—as he knows it will be devastating and end this sham trial. This is not justice!”

Costello has been contacted for comment via email.

Elsewhere, Democrats and legal experts have defended Costello’s treatment from the judge.

In reply to Eric Trump‘s post, Harry Sisson, who is part of a Biden administration initiative to promote the president’s 2024 campaign on social media, posted on X: “Costello is blatantly ignoring the Judge’s rulings and even talking back to the judge! You don’t do that in court. You’re a disgrace. Stop lying.”

Harry Litman, an attorney and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, also suggested that Costello’s behaviour while on the stand was a “horrendous breach of protocol” that the jury will likely “hold against Trump.”

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in relation to money he allegedly arranged Cohen to pay Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election to keep secret a rumored affair she had with Trump, which he denies.

The $130,000 sum was listed in Trump’s company records as Cohen’s “legal fees,” which prosecutors suggest was part of an unlawful attempt to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential race.

Closing arguments in the hush money trial are expected next week.