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Donald Trump Will Not Testify in Historic Criminal Trial


Donald Trump addressing a crowd

Donald Trump will not testify in his historic criminal trial, as his defense team rested their case on Tuesday. Trump's lawyers will speak for him during closing statements next week.


Although Trump decided against testifying, he spoke extensively to the press outside the courtroom. "I think a great case was put on. There is no crime," Trump stated before the afternoon session.


Legal experts note it is common for defendants not to take the stand to avoid aggressive questioning from prosecutors and exposure to other elements of their background, including unfavorable civil trial verdicts. Trump faces 34 felony charges of falsifying business records, to which he has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors allege he falsified records to conceal a second crime related to hush money payments to an adult film star before the 2016 election.


Before resting their case, Trump's lawyers called two witnesses, compared to the 20 witnesses for the prosecution. Justice Juan Merchan dismissed the jury mid-morning, instructing them to return for closing statements on Tuesday. He then conducted a crucial hearing to determine jury instructions before deliberation. Both sides made suggestions on how the judge should instruct the jury on applying the law and evidence in this case.


Lawyers' arguments were technical, including a debate on referring to Trump's former lawyer Cohen's past "crime" or "crimes". Cohen was a key witness for the prosecution. BBC News reporters provide updates and analysis from the Manhattan courtroom, available on the BBC news website and app, as well as across TV, radio, and podcasts.


Trump's lawyer, Emil Bove, successfully argued for the judge to address jury bias due to Trump's controversial reputation. However, he failed in a bid for the judge to instruct the jury to agree on which specific second crime Trump allegedly sought to commit or conceal. Prosecutors have suggested three possible crimes but do not need to specify which one they believe Trump committed or concealed, presenting a broad theory of election fraud.


The judge denied Bove's request to change the law, stating, "What you're asking me to do is change the law, and I'm not going to do that." A humorous moment occurred when the judge decided to strike the word "eleemosynary" from the instructions, admitting he never knew how to pronounce it, prompting laughter in the courtroom.


These arguments will come into play soon as Justice Merchan delivers detailed instructions to the jury, sending them to deliberate. The 12 jurors will then decide whether to declare Trump guilty or not guilty on each of the 34 charges.

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