June 14, 2024
Trump Hush Money Trial Live Updates: Former president set to address public from Trump Tower one day after conviction


NEW YORK (WABC) — Donald Trump became the first former president to be convicted of felony crimes Thursday as a New York jury found him guilty of falsifying business records in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election through hush money payments to a porn actor who said the two had sex.

Jurors convicted Trump on all 34 counts after deliberating for 9.5 hours.

The jury has found former President Donald Trump guilty on all 34 counts in his hush money criminal trial.

Here’s a brief look at what every witness said on the stand during Donald Trump’s hush money trial

What are the potential outcomes of Trump’s hush money trial?

Key players in the Trump trial

More coverage from ABC News

LIVE UPDATES FROM THE TRUMP TRIAL

Information from Eyewitness News, ABC News and the Associated Press

NJ Burkett has details on the guilty verdict from Lower Manhattan.

Friday, May 31

Trump set to address public one day after conviction from Trump Tower

Donald Trump became the first former American president to be convicted of felony crimes Thursday as a New York jury found him guilty of all 34 charges in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election through a hush money payment to a porn actor who said the two had sex.

Trump sat stone-faced while the verdict was read as cheering from the street below could be heard in the hallway on the courthouse’s 15th floor where the decision was revealed after more than nine hours of deliberations.

“This was a rigged, disgraceful trial,” an angry Trump told reporters after leaving the courtroom. “The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people. They know what happened, and everyone knows what happened here.”

Judge Juan M. Merchan set sentencing for July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where GOP leaders, who remained resolute in their support in the aftermath of the verdict, are expected to formally make him their nominee.

The verdict is a stunning legal reckoning for Trump and exposes him to potential prison time in the city where his manipulations of the tabloid press helped catapult him from a real estate tycoon to reality television star and ultimately president. As he seeks to reclaim the White House in this year’s election, the judgment presents voters with another test of their willingness to accept Trump’s boundary-breaking behavior.

Trump is expected to appeal the verdict and will face an awkward dynamic as he returns to the campaign trail tagged with convictions. There are no campaign rallies on the calendar for now, though he traveled Thursday evening to a fundraiser in Manhattan that was planned before the verdict, according to three people familiar with his plans who were not authorized to speak publicly.

He’s expected to appear Friday at Trump Tower and will continue fundraising next week. His campaign was already moving quickly to raise money off the verdict, issuing a pitch that called him a “political prisoner.”

The falsifying business records charges carry up to four years behind bars, though Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg would not say Thursday whether prosecutors intend to seek imprisonment, and it is not clear whether the judge – who earlier in the trial warned of jail time for gag order violations – would impose that punishment even if asked.

The conviction, and even imprisonment, will not bar Trump from continuing his White House pursuit.

Thursday, May 30

Trump exits NYC fundraiser to cheers from the public

As Trump left a fundraiser in New York City following his conviction, he waved to the public who gathered on the Upper East Side to get a glimpse of the former president.

“Never surrender!” one native New Yorker said. Trump smiled from his motorcade. Attendees appeared giddy as they departed.

“He was fired up,” a gentleman exiting the fundraiser told ABC News.

WATCH | NYC residents react to Donald Trump guilty verdict

Anthony Carlo got mixed reaction to the news of Donald Trump’s guilty verdicts.

Another insider told ABC News the mood of the fundraiser was “Very upbeat. Very positive.”

A Republican fundraiser told ABC News that a senior RNC staffer said Thursday has been “the best RNC fundraising day ever.”

Former Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin was seen in the neighborhood at the same time as the fundraiser. It is unclear if he was in attendance. Overall, it was a short event. Trump exited Trump Tower at 7:25 p.m. and arrived back two hours later at 9:25 p.m.

NYC Mayor Adams reacts to Trump verdict

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the New York Police Department will protect peaceful protest in the wake of former President Donald Trump being convicted on 34 counts in his hush money case, but not “lawlessness.”

“Today, a jury of 12 New Yorkers registered their verdict,” Adams’ statement read. “Our criminal justice process must be respected. As we await the next steps, New Yorkers should rest assured that the NYPD stands ready to respond to any and all circumstances, including large-scale protests. While peaceful protests and assembly will always be protected, we will not be a city of any form of lawlessness.”

Manhattan DA Bragg says prosecutors followed facts and law ‘without fear or favor’

At a post-verdict news conference, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg thanked the jurors.

“We should all be thankful for the careful attention that this jury paid to the evidence and the law, and their time and commitment over these past several weeks,” Bragg said.

“Twelve everyday New Yorkers, and of course our alternates, heard testimony from 22 witnesses, including former and current employees of the defendant, media executives, book publishers, custodians of records and others. They reviewed call logs, text messages and emails. They heard recordings. They saw checks and invoices, bank statements and calendar appointments,” Bragg said.

“Their deliberations led them to a unanimous conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt,” Bragg said.

“While this defendant may be unlike any other in American history, we arrived at this trial — and ultimately today at this verdict — in the same manner as every other case that comes through the courtroom doors: by following the facts and the law, and doing so without fear or favor,” Bragg said.

Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg speaks following guilty verdict in Donald Trump’s hush money trial

Trump waves, pumps fist outside Trump Tower

When former President Donald Trump returned to Trump Tower after court, he greeted those standing outside the Midtown building, waving and pumping his fist.

In a written statement, Trump called Judge Juan Merchan “corrupt” and twice called him “conflicted.”

“This was a rigged decision right from Day 1,” Trump said.

“We didn’t do a thing wrong. I’m a very innocent man,” he said.

Trump will stay at Trump Tower Thursday night.

Stormy Daniels ‘relieved’ case is over

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, one of the star witnesses for the prosecution, is “relieved” the case is over, her attorney Clark Brewster said in a statement.

“No man is above the law, and the selfless hardworking service of each of these jurors should be respected and appreciated,” Brewster said.

WATCH | Josh Einiger reports live on ABC News after being in the Trump courtroom

Josh Einiger reports on the atmosphere inside the courtroom

Daniels, whose hush money payment was at the center of the case, provided some of the most gripping testimony of the trial, describing in detail her alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Donald Trump, which he denies.

‘The truth always matters,’ Michael Cohen says

Toni Yates has more on the reaction to the Trump trial verdict.

The prosecution’s star witness, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, called the today’s verdict “an important day for accountability and the rule of law.”

“While it has been a difficult journey for me and my family, the truth always matters,” he said.

‘The fix was always in,’ says Trump adviser

Two senior Trump advisers who ABC News spoke with were extremely angry after the verdict.

Both said they were not surprised by the jury’s decision. One said, “The fix was always in,” and the other added, “Not surprised — it’s New York.”

Donald Trump Jr., reacting to his father’s guilty verdict, said, “The Democrats have succeeded in their years-long attempt to turn America into a third-world s—hole. Nov. 5 is our last chance to save it.”

Former President Donald Trump greeted those standing outside the Midtown building, waving and pumping his fist.

One of the first reactions came from Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s staunchest allies in Washington, who called it “a travesty of justice.”

“The Manhattan kangaroo court shows what happens when our justice system is weaponized by partisan prosecutors in front of a biased judge with an unfair process, designed to keep President Trump off the campaign trail and avoid bringing attention to President Biden’s failing radical policies,” Jordan said in a statement.

Many congressional Republicans offered a similar response, including Speaker Mike Johnson.

“Today is a shameful day in American history,” Johnson said. “Democrats cheered as they convicted the leader of the opposing party on ridiculous charges, predicated on the testimony of a disbarred, convicted felon. This was a purely political exercise, not a legal one.”

How Trump’s guilty verdict will impact the 2024 presidential election

Scandals have swirled around former President Donald Trump since his first presidential campaign in 2016. But as of Thursday – having been found guilty on all counts in his New York hush-money case – he is now officially a convicted felon. Could that fact cut through all the other headlines and be a game-changer for the 2024 election?

At first glance, there’s some evidence from polls that this conviction will meaningfully erode Trump’s support. An April survey from CNN/SSRS found that, while 76 percent of Trump supporters said they would support Trump regardless, 24 percent said they “might reconsider” their support for him if he was convicted. And a May poll from Emerson College found that 25 percent of voters said a guilty verdict in New York would make them less likely to vote for Trump. Read more on this story here.

Mike Marza digs deeper into the political implications of Donald Trump’s guilty verdicts.

Biden and Harris react to Trump’s guilty verdict

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris released a joint statement in reaction to Trump’s guilty verdict on Thursday.

“In New York today, we saw that no one is above the law.”

“Donald Trump has always mistakenly believed he would never face consequences for breaking the law for his own personal gain. But today’s verdict does not change the fact that the American people face a simple reality. There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box. Convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president.

“The threat Trump poses to our democracy has never been greater. He is running an increasingly unhinged campaign of revenge and retribution, pledging to be a dictator ‘on day one’ and calling for our Constitution to be ‘terminated’ so he can regain and keep power. A second Trump term means chaos, ripping away Americans’ freedoms and fomenting political violence – and the American people will reject it this November.”

Trump campaign is fundraising off verdict: ‘I’m a political prisoner!’

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign is already fundraising off of the guilty verdicts in his hush money trial, telling his supporters he has been convicted in a “rigged” trial.

“I was just convicted in a RIGGED political Witch Hunt trial: I DID NOTHING WRONG!” a fundraising email said. “They’ve raided my home, arrested me, took my mugshot, AND NOW THEY’VE JUST CONVICTED ME!” the email continues.

The email links to a fundraising page, in which Trump told his supporters, “I’m a political prisoner!”

Trump reacts to verdict

After he was found guilty on all courts in his historic criminal hush money case, former President Donald Trump angrily walked out of the courtroom and said, “The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5, by the people. And they know what happened here and everybody knows what happened here.”

“This was a rigged, disgraceful trial,” the former president told reporters. “I’m a very innocent man.”

Trump blamed the Biden administration and Judge Juan Merchan.

“This was done by the Biden administration in order to wound or hurt an opponent, a political opponent, and I think it’s a just a disgrace,” he said, without evidence. “And we’ll keep fighting, we’ll fight ’til the end and we’ll win.”

“This was a rigged decision right from day one, with a conflicted judge who should have never been allowed to try this case — never. And we will fight for our Constitution,” he said.

Donald Trump speaks after being found guilty in his hush money trial.

Trump departs, sentencing set for July 11

Sentencing has been set for July 11.

The Republican National Convention begins July 15 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Former President Donald Trump was released without bail.

Trump marched out of the courtroom, flinging his arms as he walked.

Judge thanks jurors for ‘stressful’ task

Judge Merchan thanked the jurors for their service after the verdict.

“I can see how involved, engaged and invested you were in this process,” he said.

“You were engaged in a very stressful and difficult task. … I want you to know I really admire your dedication, your hard work,” Merchan said.

Trump sat motionless as the judge spoke to the jurors.

Merchan’s last words to the jurors were, “You are excused with the gratitude of the court. Thank you.”

Merchan set sentencing for July 11 at 10 a.m.

Trump shakes head at verdict

Former President Donald Trump started slowly shaking his head at count 4, then stopped and sat motionless as the rest of the guilty verdicts were read.

As the last five counts were read, Trump was entirely stone-faced, with his lips pursed, looking down at the floor.

Trump at some points looked over at the jurors.

A group of demonstrators outside the courthouse cheered and shouted “lock him up” and “USA” after the verdict was read.

Verdict breakdown by count

Former President Trump was convicted on all 34 counts of falsifying business records in order to hide a hush money payment to boost his prospects in the 2016 election. Here are each of the records he was charged with falsifying, and the verdict for each.

Trump found guilty in historic case

Former President Trump has been found guilty on all courts in his historic criminal hush money case.

As the first former president charged with a criminal offense, Trump also now becomes the first former president to be convicted of a crime.

Trump stone-faced as he awaits verdict

Donald Trump, awaiting the verdict that will be read at around 5 p.m. ET, sat at the defense table, arms very tightly crossed. He was stone-faced, nodding as his attorney Todd Blanche whispered into his ear.

The top court officer entered the courtroom, looked around, and walked out.

DA Alvin Bragg subsequently entered the courtroom.

Verdict has been reached, judge says

Judge Merchan announced that a verdict has been reached.

The jury requested an extra 30 minutes, Merchan said.

“Please let there be no outbursts, no reactions of any kind when we take the verdict,” Merchan asked.

There was an audible gasp in the courtroom when Merchan announced that a verdict had been reached.

Josh Einiger reports on the atmosphere inside the courtroom

Trump proclaims innocence as jury deliberates

Former President Donald Trump is continuing to rail against his hush-money trial and proclaim his innocence.

“I DID NOTHING WRONG! IN FACT, I DID EVERYTHING RIGHT,” he wrote on Truth Social. “The testimony in Court was amazing for the Defense!”

Trump has pleaded not guilty.

The jury began its second day of deliberations on Thursday. The panel is deciding whether to convict or acquit Trump of some, all or none of the felony counts he’s charged with.

The former president is accused of falsifying internal Trump Organization records as part of a scheme to bury damaging stories that he feared could hurt his 2016 campaign, particularly as Trump’s reputation was suffering at the time from comments he had made about women.

Jury resumes deliberations after readbacks

At the conclusion of the readback, Judge Merchan asked the jury if he had satisfied both their requests.

“Yes sir,” the jury foreman said.

The jury then left the courtroom to return to their deliberations.

“You are excused,” Merchan said to the parties before leaving the bench and heading to his robing room.

Trump and his entourage departed the courtroom to head to the waiting area.

Lauren Glassberg has the latest from Lower Manhattan.

Lara Trump: Trump will try to campaign for presidency even if he’s convicted

It appears that – if he is convicted – a guilty verdict won’t stop presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump from trying to reclaim the White House.

That is according to Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump.

Lara Trump serves as co-chair of the Republican National Committee. She told Fox News Channel on Thursday that Trump would still try to campaign for the presidency if he’s convicted. Trump faces 34 criminal counts of falsifying business records. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

Lara Trump said if Trump is convicted and given a sentence of home confinement, “We will have him doing virtual rallies and campaign events if that is the case. And we’ll have to play the hand that we’re dealt,” according to a transcript of the interview.

The 34 counts against Trump are all the same charge, a low-level felony punishable by up to four years in prison, though it’s not clear that the judge would opt to put Trump behind bars if the jury convicts him.

Other punishments could include a fine or probation.

Jury wants readback on how to consider evidence

“We did receive another note” from the jury this morning, Judge Merchan said.

According to Merchan, the jury wants the readback to begin with a description of how the jury should consider that evidence, and what should be drawn from the testimony.

Second, the jury said they want headphones “for use with the evidence laptop.”

Merchan says the jury will get both headphones and a speaker so they can listen to the evidence.

Lauren Glassberg reports from outside the courthouse in Lower Manhattan.

Day 2 of jury deliberations

The jury in Donald Trump’s hush money trial is to resume deliberations Thursday after asking to rehear potentially crucial testimony about the alleged hush money scheme at the heart of the history-making case.

The 12-person jury deliberated for about 4 1/2 hours on Wednesday without reaching a verdict.

Besides asking to rehear testimony from a tabloid publisher and Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer, the jury also requested to revisit at least part of the judge’s hourlong instructions that were meant to guide them on the law.

It’s unclear how long the deliberations will last. A guilty verdict would deliver a stunning legal reckoning for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee as he seeks to reclaim the White House while an acquittal would represent a major win for Trump and embolden him on the campaign trail. Since verdicts must be unanimous, it’s also possible the case ends in a mistrial if the jury can’t reach a consensus after days of deliberations.

Josh Einiger reports on the former president’s trial from Lower Manhattan.

Wednesday, May 29

Trump rails about trial after leaving court for the day

Donald Trump continued to complain about the hush money trial as he left court Wednesday after the first day of jury deliberations.

“The judge ought to end it and save his reputation,” Trump told reporters after conferring with his campaign and legal teams.

The former president also railed that “a lot of key witnesses were not called,” even though his side ultimately chose to call only two witnesses to testify.

He said again it’s “very unfair” that he has to be in court instead of out campaigning” and again labeled the case “a Biden witch hunt” and “weaponization.”

Judge says jury notes will be addressed tomorrow

With the just back in the courtroom, Judge Merchan told them the requested readback of testimony would will take at least half an hour, so announced he would dismiss the jury for the day and address both their notes when they return tomorrow.

Before dismissing the jury for the day, the judge emphasized his standard instruction about the jury not looking up information related to the trial.

“You are at a critical point in the proceedings,” Merchan said.

“See you tomorrow morning at 9:30,” the judge said before the jury exited the courtroom.

Jurors want to rehear instructions

Before the parties resolved the first note, the jury sent another note asking “to rehear the judge’s instructions.”

Meanwhile, Trump remained essentially expressionless – almost with a frown on his face as the judge addresses the parties.

The jury is expected to return to the courtroom shortly.

Jury note requests portions of testimony

The parties – including Donald Trump – returned to the courtroom after a bell inside the room went off about 15 minutes ago. Judge Merchan arrived shortly thereafter:

“Good afternoon. We have received a note,” Merchan said.

Jurors have requested four items from the court:

-David Pecker’s testimony about the phone conversation with Donald Trump while at an investor meeting in New Jersey.

-David Pecker’s testimony about the decision about the assignment of McDougal’s life rights

-David Pecker’s testimony about Trump Tower Meeting

-And Michael Cohen testimony about Trump Tower Meeting

“I will be in the robing room, let me know when you are ready for readback,” Merchan says.

Todd Blanche and Joshua Steinglass are now conferring about how to respond. The parties are presumably combing through transcripts to find the relevant portions.

Stuck waiting at the courthouse, Trump rants on social media

Donald Trump’s complaints on social media about the hush money case persisted Wednesday as the jury deliberated.

“IT IS RIDICULOUS, UNCONSTITUTIONAL, AND UNAMERICAN that the highly Conflicted, Radical Left Judge is not requiring a unanimous decision on the fake charges against me brought by Soros backed D.A. Alvin Bragg,” he wrote. “A THIRD WORLD ELECTION INTERFERENCE HOAX!”

Despite his declaration, any verdict in the case has to be unanimous: guilty or not guilty.

If the jurors disagree, they keep deliberating. If they get to a point where they are hopelessly deadlocked, then the judge can declare a mistrial.

If they convict, they must agree that Trump created a false entry in his company’s records or caused someone else to do so, and that he did so with the intent of committing or concealing another crime – in this case, violating a state election law.

What the jurors do not have to agree on, however, is which way that election law was violated.

The jury has been sent to deliberate. What exactly does that mean?

Jury deliberations proceed in secret, in a room reserved specifically for jurors and through an intentionally opaque process.

Jurors can communicate with the court through notes that ask the judge, for instance, for legal guidance or to have particular excerpts of testimony read back to them. But without knowing what jurors are saying to each other, it’s hard to read too much into the meaning of any note.

It’s anyone’s guess how long the jury in Donald Trump’s hush money case will deliberate for and there’s no time limit either. The jury must evaluate 34 counts of falsifying business records and that could take some time. A verdict might not come by the end of the week.

To reach a verdict on any given count, either guilty or not guilty, all 12 jurors must agree with the decision for the judge to accept it.

Things will get trickier if the jury can’t reach a consensus after several days of deliberations. Though defense lawyers might seek an immediate mistrial, Judge Juan M. Merchan is likely to call the jurors in and instruct them to keep trying for a verdict and to be willing to reconsider their positions without abandoning their conscience or judgment just to go along with others.

If, after that instruction, the jury still can’t reach a verdict, the judge would have the option to deem the panel hopelessly deadlocked and declare a mistrial.

Trump: ‘Mother Teresa could not beat these charges’

Former President Donald Trump told reporters after jurors began deliberating in his criminal hush money trial that the charges were rigged and again accused the judge of being conflicted. He further said that “Mother Teresa could not beat these charges.”

“What is happening here is weaponization at a level that nobody’s seen before ever and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen,” Trump said.

Trump repeated accusations that the criminal charges were brought by President Joe Biden’s administration to hit him, as the president’s main election opponent.

Jury begins deliberating in historic case

“That concludes my instructions on the law. Counsel please approach,” Judge Merchan said when he was done instructing the jury.

He held a sidebar with the attorneys, after which the jurors filed out of the courtroom to begin deliberations.

Lauren Glassberg is in Lower Manhattan as jury deliberations get underway.

Judge to jurors: Personal bias must be put aside

The judge in Donald Trump’s criminal trial reminded jurors Wednesday morning of their solemn responsibility to decide Trump’s guilt or innocence, gently and methodically reading through standard jury instructions that have a special resonance in the former president’s high-profile case.

“As a juror, you are asked to make a very important decision about another member of the community,” Judge Juan M. Merchan said, underscoring that – in the eyes of the law – the jurors and Trump are peers.

Merchan also reminded jurors of their vow, during jury selection, “to set aside any personal bias you may have in favor of or against” Trump and decide the case “fairly based on the evidence of the law.”

Echoing standard jury instructions, Merchan noted that even though the defense presented evidence, the burden of proof remains on the prosecutor and that Trump is “not required to prove that he is not guilty.”

“In fact,” noted Merchan, “the defendant is not required to prove or disprove anything.”

Reading of jury instructions underway

The jury in Donald Trump’s hush money trial has entered the courtroom and taken their seats. Ahead of deliberations, Judge Juan M. Merchan has begun instructing the panel on the law that governs the case and what they can consider as they work toward a verdict.

Jurors will not receive copies of the instructions, but they can request to hear them again as many times as they wish, Merchan said.

“It is not my responsibility to judge the evidence here. It is yours,” he told them.

Trump leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes as Merchan told jurors that reading the instructions would take about an hour.

Another famous face at the courthouse

Donald Trump will not be the only big name appearing before a judge in lower Manhattan on Wednesday – fallen movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is expected to appear for a hearing related to the retrial of his landmark #MeToo-era rape case.

The hearing will take place in the same courthouse where Trump is currently on trial and where Weinstein was originally convicted in 2020.

Weinstein’s conviction was overturned in April after the court found that the trial judge unfairly allowed testimony against Weinstein based on allegations that weren’t part of the case. His retrial is slated for sometime after Labor Day.

Weinstein is set to appear for a hearing before a judge in the same courthouse as Donald Trump.

A motion that still hasn’t been decided

The judge in Donald Trump’s hush money trial might have one last piece of business to address on Wednesday before jurors receive instructions and can begin deliberations.

Last Monday, defense lawyers filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss the case, arguing that prosecutors had failed to prove their case and there was no evidence of falsified business records or an intent to defraud.

Prosecutors rebutted that assertion, saying “the trial evidence overwhelmingly supports each element” of the alleged offenses, and the case should proceed to the jury.

Judge Juan M. Merchan did not indicate at the time when he would issue a decision on the request. More than a week later, it remains unclear whether he will address it before the case goes to the jury.

Jury set to begin deliberations

Jurors in Donald Trump’s hush money trial are expected to begin deliberations Wednesday after receiving instructions from the judge on the law and the factors they may consider as they strive to reach a verdict in the first criminal case against a former American president.

The deliberations follow a marathon day of closing arguments in which a Manhattan prosecutor accused Trump of trying to “hoodwink” voters in the 2016 presidential election by participating in a hush money scheme meant to stifle embarrassing stories he feared would torpedo his campaign.

“This case, at its core, is about a conspiracy and a cover-up,” prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told jurors during summations that stretched from early afternoon into the evening.

Trump’s lawyer, by contrast, branded the star prosecution witness as the “greatest liar of all time” as he proclaimed his client innocent of all charges and pressed the panel for an across-the-board acquittal.

The lawyers’ dueling accounts, wildly divergent in their assessments of witness credibility, Trump’s culpability and the strength of evidence, offered both sides one final chance to score points with the jury as it prepares to embark upon the momentous and historically unprecedented task of deciding whether to convict the presumptive Republican presidential nominee ahead of the November election.

Lindsay Tuchman has the latest in Lower Manhattan on the trial.

Tuesday, May 28

Closing arguments conclude; jury deliberations to begin Wednesday

Donald Trump choreographed “a conspiracy and a coverup” in a brazen attempt to “pull the wool” over voters’ eyes ahead the 2016 presidential election, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said during a lengthy closing argument that stretched into Tuesday evening.

“The name of the game was concealment, and all roads lead inescapably to the man who benefitted most: the defendant, former President Donald J. Trump,” Steinglass said.

With his final pitch to jurors, Steinglass attempted to both rehabilitate the credibility of the government’s key witness, Michael Cohen, and downplay his role in the case, characterizing the onetime fixer as nothing more than a “tour guide” through a “mountain of evidence.”

In the end, Steinglass argued, jurors need not rely on Cohen alone, because “it’s difficult to conceive of a case with more corroboration.”

Judge Juan Merchan will instruct jurors on Wednesday morning. After that, deliberations will begin.

Prosecution dubs ‘Access Hollywood’ tape a ‘Category 5 Hurricane’

Following a brief afternoon break in closing arguments in Donald Trump’s hush money trial, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass turned his attention to the publication of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape in October 2016 and the resulting fallout for the then-candidate’s campaign.

“When you’re a celebrity, they let you do it. You can get away with anything,” Trump could be heard saying on the tape.

Steinglass reminded jurors how Hope Hicks, then the campaign’s communications director, testified that news coverage of the tape knocked a Category 4 hurricane out of the headlines.

Steinglass dubbed the tape a “Category 5” hurricane.

Trump was ‘looming behind everything they’re doing,’ prosecutor says

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said on Tuesday during closing arguments that joking texts between Karen McDougal’s lawyer Keith Davidson and then-National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard about hypothetical ambassadorships were clear evidence that they knew the deal would benefit Trump’s presidential campaign.

“Throw in an ambassadorship for me. I’m thinking Isle of Mann,” Davidson wrote on July 28, 2016, referring to the British territory Isle of Man.

“I’m going to Make Australia Great Again,” replied Howard, who hails from Australia.

All joking aside, Steinglass said: “It’s a palpable recognition of what they’re doing. They’re helping Trump get elected.” The prosecutor said the text messages underscore that “Trump is looming behind everything that they’re doing.”

Prosecutor says case is about Trump and not Michael Cohen

After Donald Trump’s lawyer had insisted to jurors that the hush money case rested on Michael Cohen and that they couldn’t trust him, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass sought to persuade the group that there is “a mountain of evidence, of corroborating testimony, that tends to connect the defendant to this crime.”

He pointed to testimony from David Pecker and others, to the recorded conversation in which Trump and Cohen appear to discuss the Karen McDougal deal, and to Trump’s own tweets.

“It’s not about whether you like Michael Cohen. It’s not about whether you want to go into business with Michael Cohen. It’s whether he has useful, reliable information to give you about what went down in this case, and the truth is that he was in the best position to know,” Steinglass said.

The prosecutor then accused the defense of wanting to make the case all about Cohen.

“It isn’t. That’s a deflection,” he said. “This case is not about Michael Cohen. It’s about Donald Trump.”

Trump campaign holds its own news conference

Donald Trump’s campaign staffers held their own news conference outside the courthouse Tuesday morning in the exact same spot where actor Robert De Niro and Jan. 6 officers had just spoken on behalf of Joe Biden’s campaign.

Jason Miller, Trump’s senior campaign advisor, called De Niro “a washed-up actor,” and said the news conference showed that the hush money trial was political.

“After months of saying politics had nothing to do with this trial, they showed up and made a campaign event out of a lower Manhattan trial day for President Trump,” Miller said.

Karoline Leavitt, the campaign press secretary, called the Biden campaign “desperate and failing” and “pathetic” and said their event outside the trial was “a full-blown concession that this trial is a witch hunt that comes from the top.”

Actor Robert de Niro and Jan. 6 first responders speak near Trump’s trial

Biden campaign deploys actor Robert De Niro, Jan. 6 first responders near Trump’s trial

Joe Biden’s campaign sent actor Robert De Niro and two law enforcement officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to an area in lower Manhattan not far from the criminal court where Donald Trump’s hush money trial is happening.

Speaking while the former president was stuck in court, De Niro said Trump wants to “destroy not only the city but the country and eventually he could destroy the world.”

As he spoke, Trump protesters screamed anti-Biden chants.

Actor Robert De Niro exchanged words with Trump supporters outside the court.

Defense says Trump watches his finances carefully

After arguing earlier Tuesday that Donald Trump may not have been fully aware of all his invoices, defense lawyer Todd Blanche stressed to jurors that the former president was a stickler about watching his finances.

Michael Cohen received $420,000 in all from Trump in 2017, a sum that the ex-lawyer and prosecutors in the former president’s hush money case have said included the $130,000 reimbursement related to Stormy Daniels, a $50,000 repayment for an unrelated expense and a $60,000 bonus. On top of that, prosecutors have said, there was extra money to cover taxes that would be due on the $130,000 as income – taxes that wouldn’t apply if it had simply been paid as a business expense reimbursement.

“That is absurd,” Blanche told jurors, pointing to “all the other evidence you heard about how carefully President Trump watches his finances.”

Biden and Trump campaigns hold dueling news conferences outside courthouse

Joe Biden’s campaign announced on Tuesday that it would hold an event with “special guests” as closing arguments in Donald Trump’s hush money trial are underway.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller said the former president’s allies will respond with their own event immediately following Biden’s.

He posted on the social platform X that Biden’s allies “aren’t in PA, MI, WI, NV, AZ or GA – they’re outside the Biden Trial against President Trump,” adding: “It’s always been about politics.”

Blanche takes aim at Cohen’s testimony

Insisting that prosecutors haven’t proven their case, defense lawyer Todd Blanche told jurors during closing arguments Tuesday morning that they “should want and expect more” than key prosecution witness Michael Cohen’s testimony, or that of a Trump Organization employee accounts payable staffer talking about how she processed invoices, or the testimony given by Stormy Daniels’ former lawyer Keith Davidson.

Blanche argued that Davidson “was really just trying to extort money from President Trump” in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

“The consequences of the lack of proof that you all heard over the past five weeks is simple: is a not guilty verdict, period,” Blanche said.

Blanche further laid into Cohen and his testimony, telling jurors he’ll come up repeatedly throughout the defense’s summation.

“You’re going to hear me talk a lot about Michael Cohen, and for good reason. You can not convict President Trump, you can not convict President Trump of any crime beyond a reasonable doubt on the word of Michael Cohen,” Blanche said. Cohen “told you a number of things that were lies, pure and simple,” the lawyer added.

Closing arguments in Trump trial

Closing arguments in Donald Trump’s historic hush money trial began Tuesday morning in a Manhattan courtroom, giving prosecutors and defense attorneys one final opportunity to convince the jury of their respective cases before deliberations begin.

Jurors will undertake the unprecedented task of deciding whether to convict the former U.S. president of felony criminal charges stemming from hush money payments tied to an alleged scheme to buy and bury stories that might wreck Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

At the heart of the charges are reimbursements paid to Michael Cohen for a $130,000 hush money payment that was given to porn actor Stormy Daniels in exchange for not going public with her claim about a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump.

Prosecutors say the payments to Cohen, Trump’s then-lawyer, were falsely logged as “legal expenses” to hide the true nature of the transactions.

Monday, May 27

Closing arguments expected Tuesday

After 22 witnesses, including a porn actor, tabloid publisher and White House insiders, testimony is over at Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York.

Prosecutors called 20 witnesses. The defense called just two. Trump decided not to testify on his own behalf.

The trial now shifts to closing arguments, scheduled for Tuesday.

After that, it will be up to 12 jurors to decide whether prosecutors have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump falsified his company’s business records as part of a broader effort to keep stories about marital infidelity from becoming public during his 2016 presidential campaign. He has pleaded not guilty and denies any wrongdoing.

A conviction could come down to how the jurors interpret the testimony and which witnesses they find credible. The jury must be unanimous. The records involved include 11 checks sent to Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, as well as invoices and company ledger entries related to those payments.

One last thing before the jury deliberates

A critical moment will take place, perhaps Wednesday morning, before the jury begins its deliberations.

Judge Juan M. Merchan is expected to spend about an hour instructing the jury on the law governing the case, providing a roadmap for what it can and cannot take into account as it evaluates the Republican former president’s guilt or innocence.

In an indication of just how important those instructions are, prosecutors and defense lawyers had a spirited debate last week outside the jury’s presence as they sought to persuade Merchan about the instructions he should give.

The Trump team, for instance, sought an instruction informing jurors that the types of hush money payments at issue in Trump’s case are not inherently illegal, a request a prosecutor called “totally inappropriate.” Merchan said such an instruction would go too far and is unnecessary.

Trump’s team also asked Merchan to consider the “extraordinarily important” nature of the case when issuing his instructions and to urge jurors to reach “very specific findings.” Prosecutors objected to that as well, and Merchan agreed that it would be wrong to deviate from the standard instructions.

“When you say it’s a very important case, you’re asking me to change the law, and I’m not going to do that,” Merchan said.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, requested an instruction that someone’s status as a candidate doesn’t need to be the sole motivation for making a payment that benefits the campaign. Defense lawyers asked for jurors to be told that if a payment would have been made even if the person wasn’t running, it shouldn’t be treated as a campaign contribution.

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