Sketchy characters: The best courtroom drawings from Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial

With no cameras permitted inside Judge Merchan’s courtroom, professional artists have played a starring role in bringing a drawn-out process to life

Joe Sommerlad
Friday 17 May 2024 12:12
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Related video: Stormy Daniels’ husband says they will 'vacate' America if Trump is not convicted

Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial has presented us with a particularly colourful cast of characters, from the defendant himself and his hulking lawyer Todd Blanche to the pensive presiding judge Juan Merchan and the larger-than-life key witnesses David Pecker, Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen.

But with no cameras permitted inside Manhattan Criminal Court, it has been left up to the courtroom sketch artists to give life to the proceedings, with the drawings of professionals Jane Rosenberg, Elizabeth Williams and Christine Cornell capturing the key moments and helping to illustrate the many twists and turns.

Their work has gone viral and the artists themselves have frequently been invited onto mainstream network news channels to comment on the tense exchanges they have spotted on the defence bench or pivotal shifts in the defendant’s demeanour and body language when certain names are mentioned on the stand.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper has even gone as far as to showcase his own art, so excitable has the media frenzy surrounding the trial been since it began on 15 April.

The sketch artists have been such a phenomenon that Saturday Night Live star Colin Jost was able to joke during the recent White House Correspondents’ Association dinner: “Though this may be the worst time in history to be a print journalist, it is the best time in history to be a courtroom sketch artist.

“My God! The most famous man on earth is on trial, and there’s no cameras allowed – just the artists, their pastels, and their desire to make Trump look as bad as possible. Every sketch of Trump looks like the Grinch had sex with the Lorax.”

The trial in Judge Merchan’s courtroom is currently drawing to the end of its fifth week, with the fiery cross-examination of Cohen over his role in the $130,000 payment made to Ms Daniels in October 2016 to stay quiet about the sexual encounter she alleges she had with Mr Trump set to bring an end to the prosecution’s case.

Here’s a look at some of the finest courtroom art the proceedings have produced so far, with the possibility that the defendant himself could yet take the stand – a tantalising prospect for the artists sitting with pencils sharpened at the ready.

An evocative overview of the scene inside Juan Merchan’s courtroom, with Donald Trump and his defence attorneys assembled on the front bench (Christine Cornell/Reuters)
National Enquirer publisher David Pecker on the witness stand, whose exhaustive testimony took almost the entire second week in court (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
A more casual scene of Donald Trump getting up to stretch his legs and chat with his visiting son Eric Trump (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
Former White House communications director Hope Hicks briefly breaks down in tears while giving evidence (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
Adult film star Stormy Daniels in a portrait capturing her sly self-assurance (Elizabeth Williams/AP)
Ms Daniels imitates Mr Trump with a signature hand gesture during her witty but determined testimony (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
A stern Mr Trump confronted with a 2006 photograph of himself with Ms Daniels at the Lake Tahoe celebrity golf tournament at which she alleges their sexual encounter took place (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
Another emotional moment on the stand, this time from Madeleine Westerhout, former director of Oval Office operations (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
Donald Trump shakes his head in obvious disapproval of the evidence given by Michael Cohen (Elizabeth Williams/AP)
A frowning Michael Cohen is seen on the witness stand (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
Another rather unflattering portrait of Cohen (Elizabeth Williams/AP)
A glaring Mr Trump is confronted with a cheque bearing his signature during the cross-examination of Cohen (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
Mr Blanche accuses Cohen of lying in a heated moment from the second day of his cross-examination (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

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