What to Expect as Prosecutors, Defense Sum Up Trump Case

After more than four weeks and nearly two dozen witnesses, the New York criminal trial against former President Donald Trump heads for closing arguments on Tuesday. What can we expect?

Former President Donald Trump’s trial in New York is nearing an end. On May 28, the prosecution and defense will sum up their cases, allowing jurors to deliberate on their verdict.

The Manhattan District Attorney has charged President Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records to the first degree, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

After the day-long summations, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan will give jurors instructions on the law, which should last an hour.

Prosecutors to Rely on Records

Both sides have reminded jurors that this case is about falsified business records, and prosecutors are expected to emphasize the volume of records they have entered into evidence.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors have shown emails, texts, phone call logs, contracts, and other documentation in efforts to establish that there was a scheme in place to influence the 2016 presidential election, and an effort to conceal it in the creation of 11 payments to ex-lawyer Michael Cohen.

They have argued that the records speak for themselves and are evidence of intent to defraud.

However, the records are of mixed relevance. Some were directly related to the $420,000 payment to Mr. Cohen, while others included text conversations unrelated to the events of the case, or even book excerpts from old Trump books on business advice.

Not all records were entered into evidence for the truth of their content; many had also been entered to aid jurors in assessing the credibility of witnesses.

Prosecutors to Remind Jurors of Accessorial Liability

Prosecutors will also likely remind jurors of the concept of accessorial liability, though the judge will read an official definition of the terms to the jury before deliberation.

During jury selection, prosecutors had used the example of a man hiring a hitman which seemed to annoy the defense, arguing that the man would be guilty even though he had not pulled the trigger.

They may remind jurors that the prosecutors needed to show that President Trump caused false records to be created, but not that he created them himself.

They also needed to show that President Trump had the intent to conceal a scheme. However, the jury does not need to unanimously agree on the elements of the scheme. The judge may instruct prosecutors to limit explanations of the law, leaving that to the judge.

Defense to Attack Witness Credibility

The defense only called two witnesses briefly, allowing attorney Robert Costello to refute claims Mr. Cohen made about his character, and call logs between Mr. Costello and Mr. Cohen to be entered into evidence.

The rest of the 22 witnesses were called by prosecutors, largely to enter records into evidence, except for a few who gave lengthy, narrative testimonies, during which defense attorneys seized upon inconsistencies.

Stephanie Clifford, better known as adult performer Stormy Daniels, and Mr. Cohen are considered to be at the center of the case because the 34 business records comprising the charges are only falsified if it is found that they were created to cover up a scheme necessitating this payment.

However, both witnesses were at times argumentative and evasive on the stand, gave inconsistent details, and acknowledged their animosity toward President Trump and financial interest in criticizing him publicly. Defense attorneys are likely to cast them both as opportunists.

President Trump has denied an alleged sexual encounter with Ms. Clifford, and the defense pointed out during cross-examination of Ms. Clifford that she told different accounts of the alleged encounter at different times, and suggested her inconsistent claims about why she came out with her story showed motivation to extort.

The defense attorneys have argued that Mr. Cohen is a liar, pointing to his track record of lying under oath and possibly to his new admission of stealing at least $30,000 from the Trump Organization by requesting more than he was owed for a payment he made to Red Finch for polling services.

Two other witnesses gave longer testimonies, but much of it had been to provide context for an alleged scheme.

David Pecker, former head of American Media Inc., testified for a week about stories he bought to suppress because he believed they would harm the Trump campaign. However, neither of those stories was related to the charges.

Keith Davidson, attorney for Ms. Clifford, testified at length, offering color and context to the agreement Mr. Cohen entered into with Ms. Clifford. Mr. Davidson made it clear on the witness stand that the non-disclosure agreement they signed was a completely legal contract, something defense attorneys are likely to remind jurors.

Defense attorneys will also be restricted from explaining the law to jurors, but they are likely to remind the jury that the non-disclosure agreement, popularly termed “hush money” by prosecutors, is completely legal, as is influencing an election through lawful means.

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.