Donald Trump Court Sketch Artist Responds to Criticism

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A courtroom sketch artist has responded to criticism of a recent illustration of Donald Trump on the witness stand in a New York civil fraud trial, saying that the disparagement of her drawings of the former president had only come about since his rise as a political figure.

Speaking on Fox News, Trump’s former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany had described the sketch, commissioned by the Associated Press, as a “travesty” that “looks nothing like Trump.”

Elizabeth Williams, who drew Trump while he was answering questions in court on Monday, told Newsweek: “This dumping on court artists has now become part of our business. I am getting used to it.”

Trump and a number of his associates are facing charges of falsifying business records, insurance fraud and conspiracy, after being found to have overvalued several properties and exaggerated his net worth to secure loans and business deals. They have pleaded not guilty and deny any wrongdoing.

From left, courtroom sketch artist Elizabeth Williams seen drawing in court on July 1, 2011 and former President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media after testifying at his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on November 6, 2023 in New York City. Williams told Newsweek criticism of courtroom artists “has now become part of our business.”
Jefferson Siegel/Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The $250 million lawsuit could result in the former president and his business empire being prohibited from trading in New York, and he may be made to forfeit some of his properties, both within the state and elsewhere.

In late September, Judge Arthur Engoron ordered in a pre-trial judgement that some of Trump’s business licenses in New York be rescinded and that the companies that own some of his properties be handed over to independent receivers—something that has rarely been used before. His lawyers have vowed to appeal the decision.

In an at-times testy exchange on Monday, Trump sparred with the presiding judge and took shots at New York Attorney General Letitia James. He and his legal team have characterized the litigation—as with the other cases against him—as politically motivated.

Asked about what advice she would give him during the trial, McEnany said: “Keep doing what he’s doing. Look, I would advise him to ask for a better sketch artist, because it does not look like my former boss there.”

The sketch shows Trump with his distinctive hair, appearing to gesticulate with his hands as he answers questions from a lawyer.

“As a courtroom artist since 1980, I’ve never seen such a third rail as Donald Trump,” Williams said. “When I drew him in 1986 during the USFL/NFL trial, no one knew or really cared about Donald Trump. Now that he was president and a leader of a huge political movement, it’s a whole different story.”

“When I drew him in Miami that artwork was criticized because it made him look too young,” she added. “When I drew him on the stand for the sanctions hearing, that drawing ended up on SNL. Now this.”

Newsweek approached McEnany via email for further comment on Tuesday.

The United States Football League v. National Football League antitrust trial came after the former accused the latter of monopolizing the professional sport and taking an unfairly large share of television rights while the short-lived USFL was hemorrhaging money. Trump was the then-owner of the New Jersey Generals, a USFL franchise, and testified in the trial.

Williams studied art at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Parsons School of Design in New York City.

After graduating, she started her courtroom sketching career in Los Angeles, California, and has since had her work feature on the front cover of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Williams’ work is also part of the collections of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and the New York City Police Museum.