Trump Trial Lawyers Enter Final Battle Before Jury Deliberations


The end is finally in sight for Donald Trump’s hush money trial, with prosecutors and defense attorneys beginning their closing arguments Tuesday before jurors will decide if Trump should become the first former American president to be convicted of felonies.

The legal teams will use the arguments, which are expected to last all day, to make their last pitch to the 12 members of the jury. Judge Juan Merchan will then instruct jurors on the law before they start deliberations to deliver their historic verdict.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. The case revolves around a $130,000 payment made by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election to prevent her from speaking about a sexual tryst she says she had with Trump a decade earlier.

Prosecutors say her silence was bought in order to protect Trump’s 2016 campaign, and that Trump’s reimbursements to Cohen were falsely recorded as legal fees in order to hide the true purpose of the transactions.

They will remind jurors of the testimony and evidence presented at trial supporting their claims. That includes the testimony of tabloid publisher David Pecker, who spoke about his role in a so-called “catch and kill” scheme to bury negative stories about Trump ahead of the election. Trump’s onetime campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks also told jurors about the release of the Access Hollywood tape—in which Trump could be heard bragging about groping women—and the way his campaign reacted to the crisis.

Daniels herself gave occasionally graphic testimony about her purported one-night stand with Trump in a Lake Tahoe hotel in 2006 (Trump denies ever having sex with Daniels). And the jury also heard crucial testimony from Cohen, the prosecution’s star witness, who alleged that Trump approved the reimbursement plan at the heart of the charges.

Trump’s defense attorneys, meanwhile, denied that Trump had done anything unlawful and cast Cohen as a proven liar who is now seeking revenge against his former boss. During cross-examination, Cohen admitted to stealing $30,000 from the Trump Organization and said he’d made millions from podcasts and books in which he criticized the former president.

Trump himself did not testify in his own defense despite his expressed intention to do so.

After the closing arguments have been delivered, Judge Merchan will then instruct jurors on the law relevant to the case. His instructions are extremely important because they will provide the jury members with guidance on what factors to consider when deciding whether Trump is guilty or not guilty.

The deliberations will then take place in secret. A verdict could be reached in a matter of hours or take several weeks. If the jury finds Trump guilty, each count carries a potential maximum prison sentence of four years—though Merchan would not be legally compelled to imprison Trump and the former president would likely appeal any conviction.

This post was originally published on Daily Beast

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