Trump Trial: Key Points as Closing Arguments Start


NEW YORK — Testimony in the criminal hush money trial against former President Donald Trump has wrapped up after over four weeks and nearly two dozen witnesses, progressing the case to closing arguments, jury deliberations, and a potential verdict.

Trump faces 34 felony charges of falsifying business records with the intent to commit or conceal other crimes related to payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter. Trump has entered a not guilty plea and denies the affair. He has not been charged with any other crimes despite the falsified records charges.

Here’s what to know as the historic first criminal trial against a former president moves into closing arguments.

Closing Arguments

On Tuesday, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg‘s prosecutors and Trump’s defense attorneys will deliver their closing arguments, summarizing the key points presented during the four weeks of testimony. These arguments are not evidence but aim to reinforce their narratives to the jury. Prosecutors will likely highlight the reliability of the Trump Organization’s financial documents and crucial testimonies, including those from Daniels and Michael Cohen, who implicated Trump in the hush money payments.

The closing arguments follow a weeklong break for the 12-member jury, which includes six alternates, from last Tuesday through Memorial Day. Trump attorney Alina Habba argued on Monday that the jury should have been sequestered to prevent external influence from the long break and peer discussions.

“For them to be out on a holiday weekend with friends and families who have opinions, who are watching the news, TVs in the background at the pool party, I have serious concerns. If they’re left-wing and they’re watching MSDNC, as my client calls it, [MSNBC] or CNN, they’re not going to get fair news,” Habba told Fox News.

Defense Strategy

The defense, after calling only two witnesses and not Trump, needs to create reasonable doubt in at least one juror to avoid a conviction. They are expected to challenge Daniels’s testimony and Cohen’s credibility, arguing Trump’s primary concern was protecting his family, not influencing the election.

Some lawyers have said Trump’s team must present an argument “that raises reasonable doubt,” according to attorney George Conway, who told MSNBC on Saturday that this could lead to a full acquittal for Trump.

“I think their best shot, and that’s what they’re gonna do, is hope that there’s just someone on the jury who just refuses to convict,” Conway said.

Other legal experts suggest that Trump’s legal team, led by Todd Blanche, Susan Necheles, and Emil Bove, might point out to the jury that the prosecution’s key witness never testified. That witness is Allen Weisselberg, the former Trump Organization chief financial officer, who prosecutors say was present with Trump and Cohen when they worked out the conspiracy details.

Weisselberg was never called to the stand because he is serving time for a crime initiated by making false statements in court. He was sentenced to five months in Rikers Island after pleading guilty to perjury in an unrelated civil case involving Trump, with whom he worked for nearly 50 years.

Prosecutors likely thought Weisselberg’s testimony could harm their case further, given Cohen’s history of inconsistent testimony. Trump’s lawyers also chose not to call the long-time CFO to the stand. It’s unclear if Weisselberg would have confirmed Cohen’s version of events if he had testified.

The defense “just needs to point out the failures to prove and failures to call relevant witnesses that might have had information that could give the jury more to think about,” attorney Katie Cherkasky told the Truth Voices earlier this month.

Judge’s Instructions

Judge Juan M. Merchan will instruct the jurors on the legal standards they must adhere to before reaching a verdict. This step, potentially occurring on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning, is crucial as it guides the jury in their deliberations.

Jury Deliberations

The jury will then deliberate in private, reviewing 34 counts of falsifying business records. This process is confidential and its duration varies. Jurors may request clarifications or testimony excerpts, but the nature of their discussions remains unknown.

There are also two lawyers on the jury, an uncommon occurrence after a thorough jury selection process. Some suggest these attorneys could take on a “strong leadership position” that might influence the other 10 jurors.

Possible Outcomes

A unanimous decision is required for a verdict on each count of business falsifications made between February and December of 2017. If the jury cannot reach a consensus, Judge Merchan may instruct them to continue deliberating. Continued deadlock could result in a mistrial declaration.

The coming days are critical in deciding the outcome of this landmark case, with each stage drawing it nearer to resolution.

Kaelan Deese
Kaelan Deese
Supreme Court reporter covering the latest happenings at the nation's highest court and the legal issues surrounding Second Amendment rights, abortion, and religious liberties. He previously wrote breaking news as a fellow for The Hill during the 2020 election cycle. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications program in 2019.

Latest stories


Related Articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!
Continue on app