Donald Trump trial judge Juan Merchan scolds defence witness for giving him 'side-eye'

A defence witness in the Donald Trump hush money trial has been scolded by the judge for giving him "side-eye" and making comments under his breath while on the stand.

Judge Juan Merchan briefly sent the jury and journalists out of the courtroom just minutes into the testimony of Robert Costello.

The former federal prosecutor, who has publicly blasted the prosecution's star witness Michael Cohen, aggravated the judge repeatedly during his testimony.

Costello was heard making comments under his breath and continuing to speak after objections were sustained - a signal to witnesses to stop talking.

After excusing the jury, Merchan said: "Mr Costello, I want to discuss proper decorum in my courtroom.

"When there's a witness on the stand, if you don't like my ruling, you don't say 'jeez'... You don't give me side-eye, and you don't roll your eyes."

Earlier on Monday Michael Cohen, a former lawyer for Trump admitted to jurors he stole tens of thousands of dollars from his then-boss's company.

Cohen was the last witness before the prosecution rested its case - and his testimony last week directly tied Trump to the alleged hush money scheme.

While being pressed by defence lawyer Todd Blanche, Cohen admitted he pocketed cash that was supposed to be reimbursement for a $50,000 (£39,000) payment he claimed he had shelled out to a technology firm.

But Mr Cohen actually gave the technology firm just $20,000 (£15,700), he said.

"So you stole from the Trump organisation," Mr Blanche asked.

"Yes, sir," Mr Cohen replied.

Jurors could begin deliberating as soon as next week to decide whether Trump is guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first criminal trial of a former US president.

Read more: Porn stars, sex scandals and zzzs: A to Z of Trump trial

The charges stem from internal Trump Organisation records where payments to Cohen were marked as legal expenses, when prosecutors say they were really reimbursements for porn star Stormy Daniels's hush money payment.

Trump has pleaded not guilty. His lawyers say there was nothing criminal about the Daniels deal or the way Cohen was paid.

"There's no crime," Trump told reporters after arriving at the courthouse on Monday. "We paid a legal expense. You know what it's marked down as? A legal expense."

Judge Merchan has said he expects closing arguments to happen on 28 May.

Cohen was the prosecutors' most important witness, but he was vulnerable to attack.

The now-disbarred attorney has admitted on the witness stand to previously lying under oath and other falsehoods, many of which he claims were meant to protect Trump.

Cohen served prison time after pleading guilty to various federal charges, including lying to Congress and a bank and engaging in campaign finance violations related to the hush money scheme.

He has made millions of dollars off critical books about the former president, whom he regularly slams on social media in often profane terms.