Defence Attorneys to Start Final Arguments in Trump’s Criminal Case


Tuesday marks the start of the last phase of the criminal trial for former president Donald J. Trump in Manhattan, as the defence and prosecution make their final pitches to the twelve jurors who will decide his fate.

Hours will be spent by both the prosecution and defence tying together various pieces of evidence into a coherent narrative in the hopes that it will appeal to the jury. Each side has access to a wealth of information to shape their opposing narratives, including 22 witnesses’ testimonies, reams of emails, and a covert tape of Mr. Trump organising a covert payment.

The prosecution and defense will provide divergent accounts of the same fundamental facts in an effort to sway the jury: A hush-money agreement was made between Mr. Trump’s fixer, Michael D. Cohen, and a porn star during the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Regarding that $130,000 transaction, it is an undeniable truth that Mr. Cohen paid porn star Stormy Daniels to bury her allegations of having sex with Mr. Trump.

Almost everything else is a matter of opinion.

The prosecution claims that Mr. Trump gave the order for Mr. Cohen to pay Ms. Daniels and sanctioned a criminal plan to pay Mr. Cohen back while masking the payments as payments for legal services that never happened. The testimony of Mr. Cohen, Ms. Daniels, a number of other witnesses, phone conversations, text messages, and emails, as well as other supporting evidence, support their case.

However, the defense has painted Mr. Cohen as a liar, implied that he paid Ms. Daniels on his own, and maintained that he was never even paid back for the payment. Rather, they claim that Mr. Trump paid him back for real legal services. According to Mr. Trump, he never had intercourse with Ms. Daniels.

The lead defense attorney, Todd Blanche, is anticipated to make the last argument and claim that Mr. Cohen’s testimony is what establishes Mr. Trump’s direct knowledge of a scheme to fabricate the reimbursement records, and that is why the case is dependent on him. He intends to portray Mr. Cohen as a deserted former worker who is fixated on Mr. Trump and stands to gain financially from his belief.

He can also try to draw the jury’s attention to two important witnesses who chose not to testify: Mr. Trump’s longtime bodyguard, Keith Schiller, and his longtime moneyman, Allen H. Weisselberg, who the prosecution claims created the reimbursement plan. Both men and Mr. Cohen had significant interactions towards the end of 2016 regarding the hush-money payment.

Joshua Steinglass, the prosecutor who will have the final say, might, however, take issue with any mention of Mr. Weisselberg, who is presently serving a jail sentence for perjury related to a different case. Additionally, it is anticipated that he will draw attention to every last scrap of proof, including witness testimony, that backs up Mr. Cohen’s story about the hush-money arrangement and the reimbursement.

Additionally, as he tries to persuade the jury that Mr. Trump was desperate to quiet Ms. Daniels’s account in the days leading up to the 2016 election, Mr. Steinglass can bring up Ms. Daniels’ extremely uncomfortable testimony about what she claims was an unwelcome sexual encounter.

As the trial moves into its seventh and maybe last week, here are some things to know.

It is anticipated that the final remarks would take up the entire Tuesday and possibly even into Wednesday. Jurors will receive legal instruction from Juan M. Merchan, the presiding judge in the case, as early as Wednesday before they start deliberations.

The jury’s deliberation period could range from a few hours to several weeks. The courtroom will be open to journalists during private sessions, but not much is anticipated to happen. Jurors have the option to request that testimony be read aloud in court or that the judge provide precise clarifications on any unclear legal topics.

Thirty-four criminal counts of manipulating business records pertaining to the reimbursement are brought against Mr. Trump. He might spend up to four years in prison if found guilty. Mr. Trump chose not to testify on his own behalf, so he was not one of the 22 witnesses.

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