Fire intentionally set at courthouse where Trump civil fraud trial being held

 December 15, 2023

The scene of New York civil fraud trial of former President Donald Trump has certainly seen its share of incendiary moments, but none have been quite like the Wednesday conflagration that broke out at the courthouse where the proceedings have been taking place, as the Washington Examiner reports.

According to a spokesperson for the court, an individual set fire to paper inside the building, only to swiftly engage in an effort to extinguish the flames.

The incident reportedly took place after testimony in Trump's case had ended for the day, and the suspect's actions did not appear to be in any way linked to the former president's trial.

However, the resulting chaos did force a brief evacuation of three of the building's floors, with 17 people reported sustaining minor injuries along the way.

Court spokesman Al Baker released a formal statement that began, “Preliminary information indicates that at approximately 4:15 p.m. today, an individual depressed a fire-extinguisher on the fourth floor at 60 Centre Street to douse a fire he had set to papers.”

“The New York Fire Department responded. Three floors of the courthouse were evacuated. There are no serious injuries reported,” Baker added.

Baker further noted that the event remained under investigation and that the person believed responsible had been taken into custody.

No information has yet been released as to a possible motive for the individual's conduct.

As NBC News noted, testimony in the civil fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James came to its conclusion on Wednesday, without the former president in attendance.

James contends that Trump fraudulently inflated his net worth and the value of key assets in order to secure more favorable terms from lenders and insurers.

Trump, for his part, has denied all wrongdoing and has mounted a vigorous defense against the claims.

Though Trump had previously been scheduled to take the stand in his own defense, he decided not to proceed with that plan, declaring that he had already testified “very successfully & conclusively” earlier in the proceedings, as the Associated Press reported.

Closing arguments in the case are set to take place on Jan. 11 in front of presiding Judge Arthur Engoron, who has already ruled against Trump as to certain aspects of the business fraud alleged by James.

A final verdict from Engoron as to remaining issues in the case as well as to the penalties Trump may face -- which could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars and the revocation of his New York business certificates -- is expected later that month.