'Unwelcome reality': Rape trial judge's harsh interventions seen as a bad sign for Trump
Former U.S. President Donald Trump sits with his attorneys Joe Tacopina and Boris Epshteyn inside the courtroom during his arraignment at the Manhattan Criminal Court April 4, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Kelly-Pool/Getty Images)

According to a former federal prosecutor watching the action in a Manhattan courtroom where Donald Trump is facing accusations of rape and defamation lodged against him by writer E. Jean Carroll, little is going well for the former president.

Writing for Slate, ex-prosecutor Robert Katzenberg suggested Trump attorney Joe Tacopina appears to be the wrong man for the job after Judge Lewis Kaplan grew increasingly aggravated with the lawyer's cross-examination of Carroll, and constantly interceded on her behalf.

According to Katzenberg, he is familiar with both Tacopina, who he described as a "bulldog" and "no-nonsense" Judge Kaplan's styles and he said the way it played out on Thursday --- also based on how the jury was reacting -- indicates the former president is not going to like where this civil trial is headed.

Of note, he pointed out, was Kaplan's constant interruption of Tacopina during his questioning and the appearance he was growing increasingly "peeved" at having to keep repeating himself.

"During Tacopina’s pivotal cross-examination Thursday of Carroll, that most unwelcome reality for Trump’s defense has begun to emerge," he wrote and then elaborated, "...when judges interrupt a cross-examination, it interferes with the flow of the lawyer’s questions. Second, whether it is the case or not, jurors will automatically believe you are doing something you should not be doing if the neutral judge is intervening. Both of these outcomes seriously limit a lawyer’s effectiveness and credibility."

Pointing out that Tacopina "was also boxed in by the need to show that an allegation made by a credible person was — as he described it in his opening statement — 'unbelievable,'" Katzenberg claimed Kaplan didn't help matters by "...calling Tacopina’s questions 'repetitive' and 'argumentative." He added: "Judge Kaplan’s frustration seemed to increase as the day wore on. 'We’ve been up and down the mountain. Move on.'”

Worst still for Trump's attorney, he suggested, was how the day in court came to a close.

"Late in the afternoon, when Tacopina asked Carroll to provide details about the dress she wore the day of the alleged assault, Judge Kaplan immediately interjected and excused the jury for the day," Katzenberg reported before cautioning, "Not exactly the impression Team Trump wanted the jury to be left with on the way home."

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