Donald Trump's court behaviour described as 'absurd' by presenter: 'He’s just the strangest defendant'

As Donald Trump continues to attend his criminal trial in New York, MSNBC presenter Lawrence O’Donnell points out something uncanny about the former President’s behaviour in court.

Donald Trump trial Lawrence O’Donnell #SleepyDon
© Bloomberg / GETTY IMAGES
Donald Trump trial Lawrence O’Donnell #SleepyDon

As is now customary, former US President Donald Trump currently spends most of his days in court in New York City. In the autumn of 2023, the 45th President faced Judge Engoron in his bank and insurance fraud case. Now, he sits opposite Justice Juan Merchan in what is referred to as a ‘hush-money trial’. The reality is much grimmer — this is a criminal trial in which a former President is defendant, a historic and unprecedented event.

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This trial is bringing forward a lot of interesting moments such as the testimonies of former adult-movie star Stormy Daniels and of Trump’s former attorney, the famous Michael Cohen. His testimony was the most awaited. BBC News explains why: in 2018 Cohen ‘pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance crimes in 2018’ but, to this day, continues to insist that these hush-payments were done ‘at Mr Trump's direction’.

This trial’s high-profile nature means that journalists from around the world are covering it. As expected, American news outlets are posted outside the courtroom, giving close-to-hourly updates. MSNBC presenter Lawrence O’Donnell is one of the journalists who religiously follow the trial and, in one of his commentary segments, he offered a new perspective on Donald Trump. Specially on his now famous tendency to sleep in court, as well as what he describes as ‘the most absurd defendant behaviour’ he’s ever seen.

Lawrence O’Donnell on Donald Trump’s ‘eye-closing’

This has been widely reported on already: on 15 April 2024, Donald Trump seemingly fell asleep while in court. The baffling action was brought forth by New York Times journalists Maggie Haberman and Susanne Craig.

This first occurrence, as confusing and uncanny as it already was, ended up being the first of several naps the former President is believed to have taken. On 1 May 2024, Mirror reported that Trump was seen struggling to stay awake on five separate days. This led to a psychologist commenting on the 77 year old’s poor state of health.

On 14 May 2024, when MSNBC presenter Lawrence O’Donnell was asked about Trump’s behaviour in court he addressed his ‘eye-closing’. On that he said:

First of all, there is the eye-closing, which he now does about ten minutes in the proceeding. And I think he’s doing that to try to prove to us that he’s actually not sleeping because it’s only 9.40AM.

The former writer of The West Wing continued his analysis and added that Trump’s ‘eyes are closed for extended periods of time’ and that the President tilts his head quite often.

There is more to Donald Trump’s ‘absurd’ behaviour

In the segment from MSNBC, posted both on TikTok and Youtube, O’Donnell explains that when he attends court he sits just behind Donald Trump. This privileged position has allowed him to spot other ‘absurd’ moments.

For instance, he reports that once, on 14 May 2024, he saw Trump ‘look at photographs of what appeared to be crowds possibly’ coming from a recent rally. As a reminder Donald Trump is currently running for reelection and hopes to become President again in November 2024.

O’Donnell insists that he saw Trump look at things that were ‘completely unrelated’ to the criminal trial during court proceedings. The presenter draws the following conclusion: Trump looks ‘removed’ from the situation.

However, quite quickly O’Donnell nuances his own conclusion and adds that Trump might only be trying to appear ‘removed’. He goes on:

I’m sure it’s a deliberate act. He wants to show that what’s happening on that witness stand is not important to him.
He’s just the strangest defendant presence you could possibly ask for.

Michael Cohen’s testimony and cross-examination is set to continue on Thursday 16 May 2024. So far, Trump’s former attorney has been reported as ‘calm’ and ‘steadfast’ by The Independent.

Read more:

Donald Trump: Juror who was dismissed from his trial reveals he looks ‘less orange’ and ‘bored’

Donald Trump: Legal experts weigh in on the absence of his family from Stormy Daniels hush money trial

Donald Trump: Former communications director Hope Hicks claims she had to hide newspapers from Melania


BBC News: Trump hush-money trial: Key players at the centre of the former president's case

MSNBC on TikTok

The Independent: Trump trial live: Michael Cohen cross-examination to resume as Trump and Biden agree two presidential debates

Newsweek: Donald Trump Falling Asleep at Trial Sparks Flood of Mockery

The Telegraph: Trump ‘falls asleep in court’

Mirror: EXCLUSIVE: Donald Trump 'losing control of basic functions' in court 'consistent with dementia' says expert

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