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Trump's Hush Money Trial Closing Arguments


Trump addressing his supporters

Closing arguments are scheduled for Tuesday, May 28 2024 in the New York hush money trial of Donald Trump. This marks the final chance for Trump’s defense to persuade the 12-member jury of his innocence, while a prosecutor presents the evidence against him. The trial, the first-ever criminal case against a U.S. president, enters its final phase after five weeks of testimony.


New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan will instruct the jury on Wednesday before deliberations. In the courtroom sketch, Michael Cohen testifies with Judge Merchan presiding.


The jury must unanimously decide to acquit or convict the 77-year-old Trump, who faces charges of trying to influence the 2016 election. A hung jury could lead to a retrial. The outcome impacts Trump's personal freedom and political future, as he is the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential candidate running against President Joe Biden.


Trump is accused of approving a scheme where his fixer, Michael Cohen, paid $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to keep her quiet about a past affair. Trump denies the affair and the 34-count indictment, which accuses him of falsifying business records to hide the reimbursement to Cohen, labeling it as legal fees.


If convicted, Trump could face probation or up to four years in prison, but he is likely to appeal and continue his presidential campaign. Trump faces three other indictments, including two related to his 2020 election loss, though these cases are currently entangled in legal disputes. The New York case may be the only one resolved before the November election.


Trump, who initially indicated he would testify, ultimately chose not to. His defense called two witnesses, including New York lawyer Robert Costello, who claimed Cohen assured him that the hush money deal was his idea, not Trump’s.


Judge Merchan imposed a gag order on Trump, which he violated multiple times, resulting in fines. Trump then targeted his criticism at the judge and prosecutor. Trump urged Republican lawmakers, like House Speaker Mike Johnson, to attend the trial in support, who then held press conferences outside the courtroom to criticize key witnesses such as Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels.


Cohen testified he did minimal legal work for Trump in 2017 and facilitated the reimbursement plan with Trump's approval, which was disguised as legal fees. Despite playing a crucial role, Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former CFO, was not called as a witness.


On the stand, Cohen admitted to lying to protect Trump and himself, and testified he embezzled $60,000 from Trump’s company. Cohen explained the reimbursement was increased to $420,000 to cover his tax liability, with Trump signing several checks.


David Pecker, former publisher of the National Enquirer, testified about a “catch and kill” strategy to suppress negative stories about Trump, paying $150,000 to Karen McDougal for her silence about an alleged affair. Details of this strategy can be found in catch and kill strategy.


The Washington Post uncovered a 2005 tape where Trump bragged about groping women, prompting the hush money payment to Daniels as the Trump campaign feared losing female voters. Cohen created a shell company to facilitate the payment on Trump's orders, leading to Trump's narrow victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

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