Trump’s hush money trial; prosecutors ready to present last case jury

In order to get the jury to decide Donald Trump’s fate—being the first former president of the United States to be charged with a felony—prosecutors and defense attorneys in the hush money trial will present their closing arguments to the panel on Tuesday.

The attorneys will have one final opportunity to address the Manhattan jury hearing the historic case during the arguments, which will probably span the entire day. The jury’s decision to convict the presumed Republican presidential nominee in connection with payments made during the 2016 election to keep a porn star from going public with her claims of having a sexual encounter with Trump is a momentous and historically unprecedented task, set in motion after more than four weeks of testimony.

In the trial, Michael Cohen—Trump’s former attorney and personal fixer—pleaded guilty to federal charges for his role in the hush money payments. As the star prosecution witness, Cohen will be used by defense attorneys to cast doubt on the veracity of the evidence. Prosecutors will argue that the jury has heard enough testimony to find Trump guilty of all charges.

The judge will likely teach the jury on Wednesday with the applicable laws and issues for its deliberations following the conclusion of the closing remarks. After then, the jury’s deliberations will take place behind closed doors, however any questions the jury poses in its notes to the court may provide some insight into its thoughts.

Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, charges punishable by up to four years in prison. He has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing. It’s unclear whether prosecutors would seek imprisonment in the event of a conviction, or if the judge would impose that punishment if asked.

The case centers on a $130,000 payment Cohen made to porn actor Stormy Daniels in the final days of the 2016 election to prevent her from going public with her story of a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump 10 years earlier in a Lake Tahoe hotel suite. Trump has denied Daniels’ account, and his attorney, during hours of questioning in the trial, accused her of making it up.

When Trump reimbursed Cohen, the payments were logged as being for legal services, which prosecutors say was designed to conceal the true purpose of the transaction with Daniels and to illegally interfere in the 2016 election, in which Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s lawyers contend they were legitimate payments for actual legal services, and they say that his celebrity status, particularly during the campaign, made him a target for extortion, points they are expected to revisit during their closing arguments Tuesday.

The nearly two dozen witnesses included Daniels, who described in sometimes vivid detail the encounter she says she had with Trump; David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, who testified that he used his media enterprise to protect Trump by squelching stories that could harm his campaign, including by paying $150,000 to a former Playboy model to keep her from going public with a claim that she had had a yearlong affair with Trump; and Cohen, who testified that Trump was intimately involved in the hush money discussions — “Just pay it,” the now-disbarred lawyer quoted Trump as saying.

Prosecutors are expected to remind jurors of the bank statements, emails and other documentary evidence they have viewed, as well as an audio recording in which Cohen and Trump can be heard discussing the deal involving the Playboy model, Karen McDougal.

Defense lawyers called two witnesses — neither of them Trump. They focused much of their energy on discrediting Cohen, pressing him on his own criminal history, his past lies and his recollection of key details.

On cross-examination, for instance, Cohen admitted stealing tens of thousands of dollars from Trump’s company by asking to be reimbursed for money he had not spent. Cohen acknowledged once telling a prosecutor he felt that Daniels and her lawyer were extorting Trump.

Though jurors witnessed numerous memorable moments, they won’t be told during closing arguments about exchanges and rulings that occurred outside their presence — and there were many. Judge Juan M. Merchan, for instance, fined Trump $10,000 for violating a gag order barring incendiary out-of-court comments and threatened to jail him if it continued.

The New York prosecution is one of four criminal cases Trump is confronting as he seeks to reclaim the White House from Democrat Joe Biden.

The three other state and federal cases center on charges of illegally hoarding classified documents at his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, and conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election. But it’s unclear that any of them will reach trial before the November election.

Ekene Njoku

I am a passionate blogger, graphics designer, web designer and information researcher. Also, a media marketer

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