Trump trial jury set to begin deliberations in New York criminal hush money case

Former US President Donald Trump attends his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, on May 16, 2024. 

Angela Weiss | Reuters

Jurors in the criminal hush money trial of former President Donald Trump are set to begin deliberating a potential verdict Wednesday, after they receive instructions from a judge in a New York courtroom.

Trump’s lawyer and a prosecutor gave closing arguments all day Tuesday and into the early evening.

The case marks the first time a former U.S. president has faced criminal charges.

But Trump also faces three other criminal cases, none of which is currently expected to start trial before November, when the Republican is on track to face President Joe Biden in a rematch of their 2020 contest.

Trump is accused in this case of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to reimbursements he and his company, the Trump Organization, gave his then-lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen for paying porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 shortly before the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen testified at trial in Manhattan Supreme Court that he paid Daniels at Trump’s direction to buy her silence about an alleged one-time sexual tryst with Trump in 2006.

Prosecutors claim that Trump, by falsely recording the reimbursements to Cohen as legal expenses, had criminally covered up their true nature, which was to protect his then-reeling campaign from losing the 2016 election to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

At the time of the payment to Daniels, Trump’s candidacy had been rocked by disclosure of the so-called “Access Hollywood” tape, which captured him boasting to a TV host about groping and kissing women without their consent and getting away with it because he was a “star.”

Judge Juan Merchan is expected to spend about an hour instructing the 12-member jury on the law before sending the panel to deliberate in private on Wednesday.

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Assistant Manhattan District Attorney Joshua Steinglass, in his summation Tuesday, tied the payment to Daniels to hush money paid before the election to a former alleged mistress of Trump, Karen McDougal, and to the doorman of a Trump property who had shopped around a story about Trump impregnating a housekeeper.

“Everything Mr. Trump and his cohorts did in this case was cloaked in lies,” Steinglass said. “The name of the game was concealment, and all roads lead to the man who benefited the most, Donald Trump.”

Trump’s lawyers argue that Trump did nothing wrong and that Cohen is a habitual liar who is motivated by anger toward his former client.

“The story Mr. Cohen told you on that witness stand is not true,” defense lawyer Todd Blanche said in his own summation.

“There is no proof that President Trump knew about the payment before it was made” to Daniels, Blanche said.

“As I said to you in the opening statement, it doesn’t matter if there was a conspiracy to win the election,” Blanche argued.

“Every campaign is a conspiracy to promote a candidate.”

This is developing story. Check back for updates.

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