Donald Trump

Jury in Trump hush money trial to hear closing arguments before deliberations


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Jury in Trump hush money trial to hear closing arguments before deliberations

FILE PHOTO. People hold signs in support of jailed darknet market Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, as former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends the Libertarian Party's national convention in Washington, U.S., May 25, 2024.

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

NEW YORK, USA – New York prosecutors and Donald Trump’s lawyers make their closing arguments at his hush money trial on Tuesday, May 28, in a final bid to influence the 12 jurors who decide whether he will become the first US president past or present convicted of a crime.

After six weeks of trial, prosecutors will argue on Tuesday that Trump, 77, illegally falsified business documents to cover up evidence of a payment that bought the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

Trump’s defense team will try to convince jurors he is not guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard required by US law. Trump denies Daniels’ allegation of a sexual encounter in 2006 when he was married to his current wife Melania.

Trump’s legal team called two witnesses of their own, and the former president himself did not testify.

Instead, they have tried to raise doubts about the credibility of prosecution witnesses, most notably Michael Cohen, who testified that as Trump’s fixer he handled the payment to Daniels and that Trump approved the cover-up.

During cross-examination, Trump’s lawyers got Cohen to discuss his felony convictions and imprisonment, his history of lying and his lingering animosity for his former boss. Cohen also admitted to stealing from Trump’s company.

If found guilty, Trump faces up to four years in prison, although imprisonment is unlikely for a first-time felon convicted of such a crime.

A conviction will not prevent Trump from trying to take back the White House from Democratic President Joe Biden as the Republican candidate in the November 5 election, and it would not prevent him from taking office if he won. Opinion polls show the two candidates locked in a tight race.

Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, normally a misdemeanor under New York law.

Prosecutors in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office elevated those charges to felonies, saying Trump falsified those records to disguise what amounted to an illegal campaign contribution: the payment that bought Daniels’ silence about the alleged 2006 sexual encounter at a time when Trump was already facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.

Trump has pleaded not guilty and denies wrongdoing. His lawyers have implied that the $130,000 payment for Daniels’ silence was intended to spare Trump’s family from embarrassment, not to protect his White House bid. Prosecutors will cite testimony to argue otherwise.

Trump faces three other criminal prosecutions as well, but none is likely to go to trial before the election.

Separate cases in Washington and Georgia accuse him of illegally trying to overturn his 2020 election defeat, while another case in Florida charges him with mishandling classified information after he left office in 2021.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in all of the cases and says they are an effort by Biden’s Democratic allies to hobble his presidential bid.

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