Robert De Niro clashes with pro-Trump protesters outside hush money trial: ‘It’s a coward’s violence’

Robert De Niro turned up outside Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial along with members of Joe Biden’s campaign team on Tuesday, as lawyers inside began their closing arguments.

The Hollywood star was joined outside the Manhattan Criminal Court by January 6 first responders, police officers Harry Dunn and Michael Fanone, who became outspoken critics of Mr Trump.

Jurors in the trial were hearing final words from prosecutors and defence lawyers. Mr Trump faces 34 charges that he falsified business records to cover up a hush money payment to adult actor Stormy Daniels issued shortly before the 2016 election to cover up a 2006 affair. Mr Trump has denied the affair and has pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution has argued that he did so in furtherance of another crime – election subversion – which elevates the charges to felonies.

De Niro, a longtime supporter of Mr Biden, said Mr Trump wants to “destroy not only the city but the country and eventually he could destroy the world”.

He said Mr Trump would “never leave” if he wins in November and that Americans can “kiss these freedoms goodbye that we all take for granted”.

De Niro outside of Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday (AFP via Getty)
De Niro outside of Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday (AFP via Getty)

As he spoke, Trump supporters shouted anti-Biden chants.

Pointing to Mr Dunn and Mr Fanone, De Niro said, “These guys are the true heroes. They stood and put their lives on the line.”

When a man interrupted to call Mr Dunn and Mr Fanone “traitors” who “lied under oath”, De Niro pushed back, “I don’t even know how to deal with you, my friend ... They stood there and fought for us, for you!”

The actor said that New Yorkers tolerated Mr Trump “when he was just another grubby real estate hustler masquerading as a big shot”.

“We make room for clowns ... But not a person like Trump,” he added.

De Niro argued that Mr Trump “called for terminating the constitution.

“And on January 6, rallied an angry mob to threaten democracy, leaving death and destruction in its wake.”

“It’s a coward’s violence,” he added. “You think Trump ever threw a punch himself or took one? This guy ran and hid in the White House bunker when there were protesters outside. No way.”

“He doesn’t get blood on his hands ... He directs the mob to do his dirty work for him by making a suggestion and inference and his gang grovels and follows his obvious order,” De Niro added.

Michael Fanone speaks as Harry Dunn and De Niro looks on (AFP via Getty)
Michael Fanone speaks as Harry Dunn and De Niro looks on (AFP via Getty)

A seemingly emotional Mr Fanone said he’s “Just one representative of the hundreds of police officers that were assaulted that day by Donald Trump’s supporters, inspired by his loss.”

“This election is about Donald Trump and his vision for the office of the president of the United States, not as a public servant who answers to ... the people who elected him, but as an authoritarian who answers to and serves only himself,” he added.

Mr Dunn told Americans to “wake up”.

“This is not a drill,” he said.

Trump waiting for court proceedings to start on Tuesday (POOL/AFP via Getty)
Trump waiting for court proceedings to start on Tuesday (POOL/AFP via Getty)

“I just unsuccessfully ran for office. A lot of people that I met out there said they were afraid. They’re scared to see what another Trump presidency looks like,” Mr Dunn said.

“I couldn’t say it’s going to be okay,” he added, before arguing that “we can’t count on these institutions to stop Donald Trump. It’s going to take us Americans at the ballot box to defeat him once and for all.”

President Biden is planning on finally speaking out regarding Mr Trump’s criminal trials after a verdict has been handed down in the hush money case, Politico reported last week.

If his predecessor is convicted, Mr Biden will argue that Mr Trump is not suited to hold office and that it shows the lengths Mr Trump would go to regain the presidency.

Mr Biden’s social media team is looking at using a conviction to possibly refer to their opponent as “convicted felon Donald Trump” online.

It is also expecting volleys of attacks from Mr Trump and his allies if the former president is acquitted or if there’s a hung jury.