Jury Notes Stir Speculation in Trump Hush Money Trial

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Former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial is in its jury deliberation phase, with notes the jury has sent to the judge asking to rehear testimony and instructions, which prompted some to speculate that the defense team should be worried.

The deliberation process is intentionally sealed off from the public, making it impossible to know what goes on in the closed-door jury room, but the notes provide a small window into what discussions the jurors could be having.

The 12 New Yorkers asked in the notes on Wednesday to rehear certain portions of witness testimony from tabloid executive David Pecker and Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen.

Joyce Vance, a former Barack Obama-appointed U.S. attorney, said she viewed the notes as a sign that the jury is following the “road map” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s team gave jurors that could lead them to believe Cohen’s claims that Trump knowingly participated in an illegal payment scheme.

“These requests for testimony track the roadmap prosecutors gave jurors for deciding if Michael Cohen could be believed,” Vance wrote in her blog. “It’s dangerous to read the tea leaves, but it’s a cautiously optimistic sign that jurors are working through the evidence in ways that the government proposed.”

Norm Eisen, a legal analyst who helped Democrats lead the first impeachment against Trump, also said he thought the jury appeared to be paying more attention to prosecutors’ arguments.

“[Trump attorney Todd] Blanche pushed the jury to disregard Michael Cohen’s testimony,” Eisen wrote on X. “But their notes yesterday signal that they’re focusing on the corroboration the DA emphasized—and that could be bad for Trump.”

Specifically, the jury wanted to hear Pecker’s and Cohen’s recollection of a meeting Trump had in August 2015 with the two of them. Prosecutors alleged that a conspiracy was established at that meeting that involved Pecker, the head of American Media Inc., burying negative stories about Trump while publishing positive ones to help him win the 2016 election.

Trump is charged with falsifying records of a payment Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels, but prosecutors also had to prove to jurors that the alleged bookkeeping crime occurred in conjunction with a conspiracy to commit another crime. Jurors can choose one of three other crimes prosecutors have proposed, and they do not need to agree on what it is.

The jury also wanted to hear Pecker’s testimony on a phone call Trump made to him about former Playboy model Karen McDougal, to whom Pecker paid $150,000 as part of a deal to silence her claim of an affair with Trump.

Additionally, jurors wanted to re-hear portions of the instructions Judge Juan Merchan gave them, which led former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who founded America First Legal, to declare “communist lawfare.”

Kristy Greenberg, a legal analyst and former New York prosecutor, said the jury’s requests were good for Bragg because it meant jurors were focusing their attention on prosecutors’ closing arguments.

“Today was a good day for Trump’s prosecutors: the jury has requested precisely the evidence that [Assistant District Attorney Joshua] Steinglass told them in his closing to focus on that proves the election law conspiracy,” Greenberg wrote.

The jury was still deliberating into Thursday afternoon. It could take several more hours or days, if needed, to reach a verdict.

Ashley Oliver
Ashley Oliver
Ashley Oliver is a Justice Department reporter. She previously covered Congress and campaigns for Breitbart News. Originally from Fredericksburg, Virginia, she graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in classics and philosophy before spending six years in Massachusetts working in the real estate industry.

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