Jury deliberation begins in Trump criminal trial in New York

Jury deliberation begins in Trump criminal trial in New York
Jury deliberation begins in Trump criminal trial in New York

The first criminal trial of Donald Trump in the Stormy Daniels case has entered the deliberation phase. Yesterday, the defense and prosecution presented their final arguments to the jury after six weeks of marathon testimony about the secret payment scheme to silence the magnate’s sexual scandals. Today Judge Juan Merchán will instruct his twelve members so that they can reach a verdict in the coming days. These anonymous residents of Manhattan will unanimously determine the Republican’s guilt or innocence in each of the charges against him, and could make him the first former president sentenced to prison in US history.

Trump is accused of 34 crimes of document falsification and violation of campaign finance laws in New York. Months before the 2016 elections, his lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid $130,000 to porn actress Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about a relationship they had had a decade earlier at a resort on the shore of Lake Tahoe (Nevada). In 2017, already in the White House, the magnate reimbursed him in the form of monthly payments, falsely recording them as “legal expenses” of his company.

This is the most fragile and least serious of the four criminal accusations against Trump. If the jury decides to convict him unanimously, he could face up to four years in prison, although the judge would likely give him probation at least during the campaign.

In the last month, 22 witnesses have passed through the Manhattan court, twenty called by the prosecution and only two by the defense. At the close of the trial, as during the entire process, Trump’s legal team has tried to discredit the version of the witness at the center of the case, Cohen, who recounted in court the plot of bribes to models and actresses to clean up the image of the Republican during the campaign with which he entered politics.

“He is the biggest liar of all time,” said the lawyer leading the defense, Todd Blanche, ensuring that Cohen only seeks to benefit from his fame and money, and that the prosecution has no more evidence than the word “unreliable.” from Trump’s former lawyer. The defense maintains that the sexual encounter between Trump and Daniels never took place and that the mogul was not aware of the bribery scheme devised together with the editor of the National Enquirer magazine, David Pecker, who also testified at the trial.

Cohen, who already served a sentence in 2018 for violating electoral laws, detailed in court the plan devised with Pecker two years earlier to sell positive stories about the candidate and bury those that could harm him electorally, something that the accusation considers was aimed at the end of “adulterate” the elections. That strategy went beyond Daniels: They also sent checks to a Trump Tower doorman to prevent him from talking about Trump’s alleged secret son and allegedly bought the silence of other lovers, such as playboy model Karen McDougal.

In contrast to the defense version, Cohen assured that he made the transfer of $130,000 on Trump’s orders and recalled that, after winning the elections, he assured him in a meeting in the Oval Office that he would return the money, which in In the following months he recorded his company’s legal expenses.

The sentence, which would carry up to four years in prison, requires the unanimity of the jury

The 34 crimes of which the prosecution, led by Alvin Bragg, accuses the magnate have to do with each of the documents provided as evidence, in the form of checks signed by the former president. In his closing argument, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass has guided the jury through the evidence presented throughout the trial, in the form of testimonies, emails, text messages and recordings. And he has asked them not to be confused by the defense, which “wants to make this case about Michael Cohen. It is not, it is about Donald Trump,” he noted.

However, conviction requires unanimity from the jury, and it is enough for the defense to have been able to convince one of its members to exonerate the tycoon. The deliberation process that begins today could last several days and the verdict is expected to arrive next week. The historic decision by twelve Manhattanites will determine the shape and tone of the final five months of the campaign leading up to November’s presidential election.

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