Trump’s silence money trial: Jury begins deliberations after marathon closing arguments

NEW YORK (AP) — Jurors in Donald Trump’s trial Testing money to keep quiet Deliberations are expected to begin on Wednesday after the judge receives instructions on the law and factors he might consider as he attempts to reach a verdict in the first criminal case against a former US president.

The discussion is as follows: Marathon day of closing arguments In which a Manhattan prosecutor accused Trump of attempting to “defraud” voters in the 2016 presidential election Quiet money plan This was intended to suppress embarrassing stories that he feared would harm his campaign.

“The name of the game was cover-up, and all roads inevitably lead to the person who benefited the most: the defendant, former President Donald Trump,” prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told jurors.

In contrast, Trump’s lawyers described the prosecution’s key witness as “the biggest liar ever” as he maintained his client was innocent of all charges and pressured the panel to acquit him on all charges.

The lawyers’ conflicting statements, which included sharply different assessments of the credibility of witnesses, Trump’s culpability and the strength of the evidence, provided both sides with a final opportunity to score points with the jury as it prepared to begin the crucial and historically unprecedented task of deciding whether to convict the presumptive Republican presidential nominee before the November election.

Trump faces 34 felony charges of falsifying business records, which carry a sentence of up to four years in prison. He has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing. It is unclear whether prosecutors will seek prison time if convicted or whether a judge will impose that sentence.

The jury will have the option of convicting Trump on all counts, acquitting him on all counts or delivering a mixed verdict, finding him guilty on some charges and not guilty on others. If they deadlock after several days of deliberations and cannot reach a unanimous decision, Judge Juan M. Merchan could declare a mistrial.

The suit alleged that Trump and his associates paid money to suppress potentially embarrassing stories during the 2016 presidential campaign, including a porn actor Who alleged that she and Trump had sex a decade ago. Her lawyer, Todd Blanch, told the jury that neither actor Stormy Daniels nor Trump’s lawyer who paid her, michael cohencan be trusted.

“President Trump is innocent. He has committed no crime, and the district attorney has not fulfilled his obligation to produce evidence,” Blanch said.

Former President Donald Trump returns from a break at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson, Pool)

With just hours left until deliberations were set to begin, Trump posted on his social media networks Wednesday morning before leaving Trump Tower for the courthouse, once again having effusive words about the trial, the judge and Cohen.

He called it a “kangaroo court” and falsely claimed the judge had prevented him from defending himself, because he claimed his alleged actions were taken on the advice of his then-lawyer Cohen. In March, Trump’s lawyers informed the court they would not rely on that defense.

Trump pointed to Cohen and said, “No crime was committed except that idiot got caught stealing from me!” He added again in all caps, “IN GOD WE TRUST!”

Steinglass attempted to allay potential jurors’ concerns about the witness’ credibility. For example, Trump has repeatedly accused Cohen of being a liar.

In this courtroom sketch, Tuesday, May 28, 2024, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass presents closing arguments on behalf of the prosecution in the criminal trial of Donald Trump in New York. Trump sits at the far left, eyes closed, next to his lawyer, Todd Blanch. Judge Juan Merchan sits at the top right. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

In this courtroom sketch, Tuesday, May 28, 2024, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglase presents closing arguments on behalf of the prosecution in the criminal trial of Donald Trump in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters outside Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Justin Lane/Pool Photo via AP)

Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters outside Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Justin Lane/Pool Photo via AP)

Prosecutors acknowledged that Daniels’ account of the alleged 2006 encounter in a Lake Tahoe hotel suite, which Trump has denied, was at times “disgusting.” But they said the details she provided — including about the decor and what she said she saw when she looked into Trump’s toiletry kit — are evidence that “sounds like the truth.”

And, he said, the story matters because it “encourages (Trump) to buy his silence.”

“Her story is a mess. It makes people feel uncomfortable. Maybe some of you feel uncomfortable hearing it. But that’s the point,” Steinglass said. He told jurors: “Simply put, Stormy Daniels is the motive.”

This payment came to light in the backdrop of the 2005 revelations. “Access Hollywood” recording In which Trump can be heard boasting about sexually grabbing women without their permission. Steinglass said that if Daniels’ story had come out after the recording, it would have weakened his strategy of presenting things in a deceptive manner.

“It’s important to appreciate that,” Steinglass said. At the same time that he was dismissing his words on the tape as “locker room conversation,” Trump was “negotiating to silence a porn star,” the prosecutor said.

Blanch, who spoke first, attempted to downplay the incident’s fallout by saying the “Access Hollywood” taping was not a “catastrophic event.”

Steinglass also sought to reassure jurors that the prosecution’s case was not based solely on Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and personal broker, who paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet. Cohen later pleaded guilty to federal charges for his role in the hush-money scandalas well as for lying to Congress. He went to jail and was disbarred, but his direct involvement in the transactions made him a key witness in the trial.

“This is not about whether you like Michael Cohen. It’s not about whether you want to do business with Michael Cohen. It’s about whether he has useful, credible information to give you about what happened in this case, and the truth is he was in the best position to know,” Steinglass said.

Though the case sparked sometimes risqué discussions of sex and tabloid industry practices, the real allegations related to something decidedly less glamorous: reimbursements signed by Trump to Cohen for payments.

The reimbursements were recorded as legal expenses, which prosecutors say was a fraudulent label designed to conceal the purpose of the money transactions to keep quiet and illegally interfere in the 2016 election. Defense lawyers say Cohen actually did significant legal work for Trump and his family.

In her hour-long address to the jury, Blanch criticized the entire premise of the case, echoing Trump’s “deny everything” approach.

He said Cohen, not Trump, had created the invoices that were submitted to the Trump Organization for reimbursement, and he rejected the caricature prosecutors have presented of him as a detail-oriented manager. He suggested instead that Trump was concerned about the presidency, not the checks he was signing. And he rejected the idea that the alleged hush-hush scheme amounted to interference in the election.

“Every campaign in this country is a conspiracy to promote a candidate, it’s a group of people working together to help somebody win,” Blanch said.

As expected, he saved his most aggressive attacks for Cohen, with whom he tangled throughout. a long argument,

Mimicking the term “GOAT,” which is primarily used in sports as an abbreviation for “greatest of all time,” Blanch called Cohen “GLOAT” — greatest liar of all time — and called Cohen “the human embodiment of reasonable doubt.” This language was used intentionally, because in order to convict Trump, the jury must believe that prosecutors have proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“He has lied to you repeatedly. He has lied many times before he even met you. His financial and personal well-being depend on this case. He is biased and motivated to tell you a story that is not true,” Blanch said, referring to Cohen’s frequent and often vitriolic personal social media attacks on Trump and the lucrative income he has earned from books and podcasts about Trump.

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Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price in New York contributed to this report.

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