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Trump jurors begin deliberating in New York criminal trial : NPR



Trump jurors begin deliberating in New York criminal trial : NPR

Former President Donald Trump walks out of the courtroom Wednesday to make remarks to the media throughout his legal trial at Manhattan Prison Courtroom in New York Metropolis.

Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Pictures

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Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Pictures

NEW YORK — Twelve New York jurors started deliberations Wednesday in former President Donald Trump’s legal trial. They’ll resolve if Trump shall be convicted or acquitted of 34 felony counts of falsified enterprise data. That is the primary legal trial towards a former or sitting U.S. president.

All 12 jurors — plus six alternates who had been requested to remain in case they’re wanted — listened to simply over 4 weeks of testimony because the prosecution argued that Trump was concerned in a scheme meant to hide a hush cash fee to grownup movie star Stormy Daniels to additional one other crime.

The funds weren’t in dispute. What prosecutors wanted to show was that Trump made them so as to cowl up different crimes, equivalent to violating marketing campaign finance regulation and mischaracterizing the funds for tax functions.

The jury heard from 22 witnesses with often-dramatic testimony. Jurors are weighing proof, together with paperwork like cellphone data, invoices and checks, as they attempt to attain a verdict. Trump has pleaded not responsible.

The decision have to be unanimous. If all 12 jurors can’t agree, the jury is taken into account “hung,” and the choose will declare a mistrial. The district lawyer prosecuting the case must resolve whether or not to strive the case once more.

On Wednesday, New York Choose Juan Merchan reminded the jury of their promise to be neutral and go away their biases on the door. For an hour, he delivered the jury directions, reminding jurors that some proof — equivalent to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s responsible plea to violating federal marketing campaign finance legal guidelines, or sure headlines that ran in newspapers — is used solely to determine the credibility of different witnesses, and provides context to the timing of occasions, and to not decide Trump’s guilt.

Merchan additionally defined how the jury ought to outline the regulation at hand, which incorporates the intent to defraud and falsify enterprise data. On this case, he stated prosecutors argued Trump aimed to hide breaking New York election regulation by falsifying enterprise data.

With a purpose to decide this, the jury might have a look at three of the prosecution’s theories: Federal Election Marketing campaign Act violation, falsification of different enterprise data or violation of tax legal guidelines.

Jurors started deliberations simply earlier than noon Wednesday. They headed right into a room, giving up their cellphones. They’ve one laptop computer with all of the proof. They wrapped for the day late Wednesday afternoon.

In closing arguments Tuesday, the protection and the prosecution laid out their last arguments. Trump lawyer Todd Blanche centered intently on the credibility of former Trump lawyer Cohen and argued that influencing an election isn’t unlawful. Prosecutors sought to construct up Cohen’s testimony by reminding jurors of all the opposite witnesses they heard from, and strolling them via the checks, invoices and ledgers that represent the 34 counts of falsified enterprise data.

All through the trial, Trump, the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee, has lamented his incapacity to marketing campaign as a lot as he would really like, since, per New York legal regulation, he has to attend the trial daily that courtroom is in session. He has additionally accused the choose of being biased.

He reiterated these feedback — with out proof — Wednesday within the hallways because the jurors started their deliberations.

“Mom Theresa couldn’t beat these expenses. The costs are rigged,” he stated. “The entire thing is rigged.”

What the jury heard

In August 2015, two months after Trump introduced his 2016 presidential bid, David Pecker, then the writer of the Nationwide Enquirer tabloid, met with Trump and Cohen at Trump Tower, in line with Pecker’s testimony.

At that assembly, Pecker testified, it was agreed that he can be the “eyes and ears” of the Trump marketing campaign. His job was to look out for damaging tales from girls he might “take off {the marketplace},” by shopping for up the rights however by no means publishing them.

The plan, as Pecker outlined it, was that he would suppress these tales, and on the identical time publish damaging tales about Trump’s opponents. A few of these tales, Pecker stated, had been despatched to Trump and Cohen for approval previous to publication.

Over the following 12 months, Pecker stated he carried out this position. His testimony was corroborated by Keith Davidson, an lawyer who represented each Daniels and former Playboy mannequin Karen McDougal. In about June 2016, McDougal thought-about going public together with her story of a year-long affair with Trump. However Pecker purchased the rights to that story, with the expectation that he can be reimbursed by Trump. That by no means occurred.

In early October 2016, in line with the testimony of former Trump communications aide Hope Hicks, the marketing campaign was rocked by the discharge of the Entry Hollywood tape, the place Trump may very well be heard boasting “Once you’re a star they allow you to do it. You are able to do something. Seize ’em by the p****.”

The subsequent day, in line with Pecker, Cohen and Davidson, Daniels threatened to go public with accusations she’d had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 in a Lake Tahoe lodge suite throughout a celeb golf match.

In her testimony, Daniels testified that there was a “energy imbalance” that made her really feel she needed to have intercourse with Trump, when, after leaving the suite’s restroom, she discovered Trump on the lodge mattress in his underwear.

She testified that Trump had dangled a doable position on his TV present Celeb Apprentice. This element — that the intercourse wasn’t fully needed — brought on the protection to request a mistrial, which was denied. It additionally supplied a motive for Trump to suppress the story. Prosecutors stated, “Trump knew what occurred in that lodge room” and didn’t need it to return out. The grownup movie actor’s testimony additionally included intimate particulars of her alleged sexual encounter, a few of which Choose Merchan agreed with the protection weren’t vital.

As October drew to a detailed, Cohen testified, he frantically opened financial institution accounts and tried to give you a option to pay the $130,000 to maintain Daniels quiet. However Trump, Cohen stated, needed to delay the fee till after the election, with the concept after that it wouldn’t matter if Daniels was paid.

This level, that Trump was making the fee to affect the election by retaining girls voters on board, was corroborated by quite a few different witnesses. Hicks, who stated Trump, by then within the White Home, instructed her that it was higher the story got here out in 2018, quite than 2016.

Cohen finally wired the cash himself to Daniels, with the understanding, he stated, that he can be repaid. Cohen testified to quite a few conversations with Trump, backed up by cellphone data, together with on the day he wired the funds. However the protection rattled Cohen on cross-examination when it offered proof that one of many calls which Cohen had stated was made via Trump’s bodyguard, Keith Schiller, was as a substitute with Schiller about threats from a 14-year-old prankster.

Nonetheless, the guts of the case rests on the testimony of what occurred after the election, when the data had been allegedly falsified, particularly the handwritten notes and paperwork from the Trump Group’s former comptroller, Jeff McConney.

McConney authenticated a key report: the financial institution assertion displaying Cohen’s wire switch. That report included handwritten notes from Cohen and Trump’s former chief monetary officer, Allen Weisselberg, describing the $130,000 fee that may be “grossed up” to cowl Cohen’s taxes. That sum, mixed with one other reimbursement and a bonus, for a complete of $420,000, was paid out over 12 months at a charge of $35,000 monthly.

The funds can be described as pursuant to a “authorized retainer.” (Weisselberg, who’s serving jail time for perjury in Trump’s civil fraud trial, didn’t testify.)

On the stand, Cohen described a compensation scheme that shaped the premise of the 34 counts of falsified enterprise data: 11 falsified invoices, 12 falsified ledger entries and 11 checks falsely recording the compensation as authorized “retainers.” 9 of the checks had been signed by Trump, himself.

Cohen stated he and Weisselberg met and mentioned the settlement with Trump shortly earlier than he left for Washington, on or about Jan. 17, 2020. Cohen stated Trump accepted the deal, saying on the finish of the assembly that “it was going to be one heck of a journey,” in Washington. Cohen stated he and Trump mentioned the association once more, in early February, within the Oval Workplace. Photographs and White Home data corroborate that the 2 met within the Oval Workplace on the time.

The protection offered simply two witnesses, together with Robert Costello, an lawyer who needed to characterize Cohen after Cohen’s house and workplace had been searched by the FBI in 2018. Costello had been placed on the stand to refute Cohen’s declare that Costello was pressuring Cohen to remain on Trump’s “group.” However Costello’s emails confirmed that Trump was deciding which of Cohen’s attorneys he needed to pay, and that Costello was involved about not giving “the looks that we’re following directions from [Rudy] Giuliani or the president,” referring to the previous New York Metropolis mayor who was Trump’s lawyer on the time.

What comes subsequent

Jurors might deliberate for hours, days or perhaps weeks as they attempt to attain a unanimous determination.

If Trump is convicted, Merchan would later problem the sentence, which can or might not embody jail time; some authorized consultants consider imprisonment for a former president is unlikely. A conviction doesn’t stop Trump from being the GOP nominee, nor persevering with his bid for president. It’s probably his authorized group would attraction the choice, as they’ve in previous civil trials in New York.

If he’s acquitted of the costs, Trump can’t be retried for a similar expenses.

The jurors vary from throughout Manhattan, together with Harlem, Hell’s Kitchen, Murray Hill and the Higher West Aspect. They’re litigators, lecturers, bodily therapists and funding bankers. Their hobbies vary from wooden and metallic working, climbing, fly fishing and exploring New York Metropolis. There are seven males and 5 girls.

Merchan has tried to make sure that the jury stays nameless, citing security considerations. Jurors are recognized by numbers, usually are not allowed to be photographed or recorded, and solely attorneys have entry to their names.

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