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Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Jurors in Trump hush money trial end first day of deliberations after asking to repeat their testimony

By Vaseline May30,2024

The jury in Donald Trump’s hush money trial ended its first day of deliberations on Wednesday without a verdict, but asked to hear testimony from key witnesses about the alleged hush money scheme at the heart of the history-making case.

The 12-member jury was sent home around 4 p.m. after about 4 1/2 hours of deliberation. The trial will resume Thursday, when jurors are expected to repeat requested testimony and at least some of the judge’s legal instructions intended to guide them on the law.

The notes sent to the judge with the requests marked the first burst of communication with the court after the panel of seven men and five women was sent to a private room just before 11:30 a.m. to begin weighing a verdict.

“It is not my responsibility to review the evidence here. It is yours,” Judge Juan M. Merchan told the jurors before sending them to deliberations, reminding them of their vow during the selection process to judge the case fairly and impartially.

It is unclear how long the deliberations will last. A guilty verdict would deliver a stunning legal reckoning for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee as he tries to reclaim the White House, while an acquittal would mark a major victory for Trump and embolden him on the campaign trail. Because the verdicts must be unanimous, it is also possible that the case could end in a mistrial if the jury cannot reach an agreement after days of deliberations.

Trump struck a pessimistic tone after leaving the courtroom following the reading of jury instructions, repeating his claims of a “very unfair trial” and saying: “Mother Teresa couldn’t refute this charge, but we’ll see. We’ll see how we do.”

He remained in the courthouse during the deliberations, posting complaints about the trial on his social media network and quoting legal and political commentators who view the case in his favor. In an all-caps message, he stated that he did not even “know what the charges are in this rigged case,” even though he was present in the courtroom when the judge laid them out to jurors.

He did not testify in his own defense, something the judge told jurors they could not take into account.

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying corporate records at his company in connection with an alleged scheme to hide potentially embarrassing stories about him during his 2016 Republican presidential campaign.

The charge, a misdemeanor, stems from restitution paid to then-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen after he made a $130,000 hush-money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels to silence her claims that she and Trump had sex in 2006. Trump is accused of misrepresenting Cohen’s repayments. as legal fees to hide the fact that they were bound by a hush money payment.

Trump has pleaded not guilty and claims the Cohen payments were for legitimate legal services. He has also denied the alleged extramarital sexual encounter with Daniels.

To convict Trump, the jury would have to unanimously find that he made a fraudulent entry in his company’s records, or caused someone else to do so, and that he did so with the intent to commit or conceal another crime.

Prosecutors say Trump committed or concealed election law violations that make it unlawful for two or more conspirators to “unlawfully promote or prevent the election of any person to public office.”

While the jury must agree unanimously that something illegal was done to promote Trump’s election campaign, they do not have to be unanimous on what that illegal thing was.

The jurors – a diverse cross-section of Manhattan residents and professional backgrounds – often seemed fascinated by testimony, including from Cohen and Daniels. Many took notes and watched intently as witnesses answered questions from prosecutors and Trump’s lawyers.

Jurors began deliberating Tuesday after a marathon day of closing arguments. A prosecutor spoke for more than five hours, underscoring the burden the district attorney’s office faces in establishing Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Trump team does not have to establish his innocence to avoid a conviction, but must instead rely on at least one juror ruling that prosecutors have not sufficiently proven their case.

While instructing the jury on the law Wednesday morning, Merchan provided some guidance on factors the panel can use to evaluate witness testimony, including its plausibility, its consistency with other testimony, the witness’s demeanor on the witness stand and whether the person has a motive. to lie.

But, the judge said, “there is no specific formula for assessing the truthfulness and accuracy of another person’s statement.”

The principles he outlined are standard, but perhaps even more relevant now that Trump’s defense has relied heavily on questioning the credibility of the prosecution’s key witnesses, including Cohen.

Jurors in the afternoon asked for at least some of those instructions to be repeated. They also asked to rewatch certain key episodes of the trial, although it was not clear why.

The requests related to testimony from Cohen and former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker about an August 2015 meeting with Trump at Trump Tower, where the tabloid boss promised to be the “eyes and ears” of his fledgling presidential campaign.

Pecker testified that the plan included identifying potentially damaging stories about Trump so they could be squashed before they were published. That, according to prosecutors, was the beginning of the catch-and-kill scheme at the heart of the case.

Jurors also want to hear Pecker’s story about a phone call he said he received from Trump discussing a rumor that another outlet had offered to buy former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story, which claimed she was halfway through had an affair with Trump in the 2000s. . Trump has denied the affair.

Pecker testified that Trump told him, “Karen is a nice girl” and asked, “What do you think I should do?” Pecker said he responded, “I think you should buy the story and take it off the market.” He added that Trump told him he doesn’t buy stories because they always come out and that Cohen would be in touch.

The publisher said he left the conversation assuming Trump knew the specifics of McDougal’s claims. Pecker said he believed the story was true and that it would have been embarrassing for Trump and his campaign if it had been made public.

National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., ultimately paid McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story in a deal that also included writing and other opportunities with the fitness magazine and other publications.

The fourth point the jury asked for is Pecker’s testimony about his decision in October 2016 to back out of an agreement to sell the rights to McDougal’s story to Trump through a company Cohen created for the transaction. Such an agreement is known as a ‘transfer of rights’.

“I called Michael Cohen and told him that the agreement, the assignment agreement, is not going through. I’m not moving forward. It’s a bad idea, and I want you to tear up the agreement,” Pecker testified. “He was very, very angry. Very upset. Actually yelling at me.”

Pecker testified that he reiterated to Cohen that he was not moving forward with the agreement.

He said Cohen told him, “The boss will be very angry with you.”

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Follow the AP’s coverage of former President Donald Trump at https://apnews.com/hub/donald-trump.

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