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Trump's Defense Rests in Hush Money Trial

Updated: May 23

In the hush money trial, Donald Trump's legal team rested its case after calling only two witnesses without having the former president testify. According to criminal defense lawyers and ex-prosecutors, this is not unusual as the defense merely needs to prove their client's reasonable doubt of committing a crime, not necessarily needing several witnesses.

Sarah Krissoff, a white-collar defense attorney and ex-federal prosecutor, stated that prosecutors bear the burden of proof. Trump faces charges of falsifying company records to hide payments made in 2017 to his lawyer, Michael Cohen. Prosecutors assert that these payments were for Cohen's work suppressing negative 2016 presidential campaign stories, including an alleged sexual encounter with a porn actor, Stormy Daniels.

Defense lawyers' primary task, according to Krissoff, is to question the prosecution’s witnesses' credibility. The defense’s primary witness was attorney Robert Costello, who testified about his 2018 conversations with Cohen following the FBI raid of Cohen’s home and office. Costello stated that Cohen had informed him that Trump was oblivious about $130,000 in hush money paid to Daniels.

However, Cohen testified that Trump was aware of the scheme to pay off Daniels. But under cross-examination, he confessed to stealing from Trump’s company and lying during congressional testimony. Cohen also professed his innocence of crimes, including tax evasion and bank fraud, despite 2018 guilty pleas.

Allen Weisselberg, the ex-chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, did not testify, despite being potentially knowledgeable about the payments made to Cohen. Weisselberg was recently sentenced to five months in jail for perjury during his testimony in the civil fraud lawsuit brought against Trump by New York’s attorney general.

The trial's closing arguments are anticipated on May 28.


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