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Closing arguments to begin in Trump’s hush-money trial: here’s what’s happened so far Closing arguments in Trump’s hush-money trial: here’s what’s happened so far
(about 8 hours later)
Former president’s New York criminal trial draws to a close as the country awaits a verdictFormer president’s New York criminal trial draws to a close as the country awaits a verdict
Donald Trump is the first US president to be tried on criminal charges – and could face prison if convicted. Trump allegedly falsified the financial transaction behind the $130,000 hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. He denies 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in spring 2023.Donald Trump is the first US president to be tried on criminal charges – and could face prison if convicted. Trump allegedly falsified the financial transaction behind the $130,000 hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. He denies 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in spring 2023.
Here’s what you need to know about the case:Here’s what you need to know about the case:
28 May: what is happening today 28 May: what happened today
Donald Trump’s hush-money trial enters its final stages on Tuesday as closing arguments begin in court. Donald Trump’s hush-money trial entered its final stages on Tuesday as the defense and prosecution presented closing arguments in court.
Prosecutors argue that the payments to the adult film star Stormy Daniels amount to election interference as Trump was running in the 2016 race for the White House at the time and seeking to cover up a potentially damaging scandal. Trump denies all the charges. Trump’s defense team presented an hours-long summation that featured eyebrow-raising elements. “It doesn’t matter if there was a conspiracy to try and win an election,” Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche said of the alleged payoff plot involving Trump. “Every campaign in this country is a conspiracy to promote a candidate.”
Central to the case is the testimony of Trump’s former lawyer and once-feared fixer Michael Cohen. Cohen gave vital evidence for the role that Trump played in the alleged hush-money scheme, but was also brutally grilled by Trump’s lawyers for his previous history of lying and his evident dislike of his former boss and desire to see him behind bars. Blanche insisted to jurors that Trump did not falsify business records nor did he try to and that jurors need not even consider his alleged efforts to sway the 2016 race by burying potentially damaging news coverage. Blanche said the former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker had provided favorable coverage to Trump for decades far before his candidacy “because it was good for business”. He called this symbiosis between media and politicians “standard operating procedure”.
Donald Trump’s hush-money trial enters its final stages on Tuesday as closing arguments begin in court. At the end of his summation, Blanche provided 10 reasons why jurors should find reasonable doubt and acquit Trump. Among these reasons: Michael Cohen created the invoices for legal services, not Trump, and there was no proof that he ever saw the vouchers or checks which prosecutors claim are illegal, Blanche said. Blanche also said there was no evidence that Trump tried to defraud anyone, noting that a tax document was issued to Cohen. He said that there was no reason to do anything illegal to cover up Daniels’ account, noting that it had already been public.
Prosecutors argue that the payments to the adult film star Stormy Daniels amount to election interference as Trump was running in the 2016 race for the White House at the time and seeking to cover up a potentially damaging scandal. Trump denies all the charges. No 10 on Blanche’s list was Cohen. “Cohen is the human embodiment of reasonable doubt,” Blanche said. “Have you guys heard of Goat, a goat, greatest of all time…Michael Cohen is the Gloat the greatest liar of all time.”
Central to the case is the testimony of Trump’s former lawyer and once-feared fixer Michael Cohen. Cohen gave vital evidence for the role that Trump played in the alleged hush-money scheme, but was also brutally grilled by Trump’s lawyers for his previous history of lying and his evident dislike of his former boss and desire to see him behind bars. Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass’s closing statement reminded jurors of a summer 2015 meeting at Trump Tower where Trump sat with Cohen and Pecker, where Pecker said he agreed to apprise them of negative stories that could thwart Trump’s campaign, so they could work to bury them. “Three rich and powerful men, high up in Trump Tower, tried to become even more powerful by controlling the information that reached voters,” Steinglass said.
Steinglass urged jurors to “tune out the noise and ignore the sideshows”. “And if you’ve done that,” Steinglass told jurors, “you will see that the people have presented powerful evidence.”
Steinglass argued each of the three stories that Donald Trump tried to have buried were unlawful contributions to the Trump campaign.
Steinglass’s closing arguments focused on driving home motive – arguing Trump knew the stories were damaging to his presidential campaign. He also tried to focus on Trump’s involvement in covering up payments and argued that the primary concern was the election, not his family.
Donald Trump’s hush-money trial entered its final stages on Tuesday as the defense and prosecution presented closing arguments in court.
Trump’s defense team presented an hours-long summation that featured eyebrow-raising elements. “It doesn’t matter if there was a conspiracy to try and win an election,” Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche said of the alleged payoff plot involving Trump. “Every campaign in this country is a conspiracy to promote a candidate.”
Blanche insisted to jurors that Trump did not falsify business records – nor did he try to – and that jurors need not even consider his alleged efforts to sway the 2016 race by burying potentially damaging news coverage. Blanche said the former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker had provided favorable coverage to Trump for decades – far before his candidacy – “because it was good for business”. He called this symbiosis between media and politicians “standard operating procedure”.
At the end of his summation, Blanche provided 10 reasons why jurors should find reasonable doubt – and acquit Trump. Among these reasons: Michael Cohen created the invoices for legal services, not Trump, and there was no proof that he ever saw the vouchers or checks which prosecutors claim are illegal, Blanche said. Blanche also said there was no evidence that Trump tried to defraud anyone, noting that a tax document was issued to Cohen. He said that there was no reason to do anything illegal to cover up Daniels’ account, noting that it had already been public.
No 10 on Blanche’s list was Cohen. “Cohen is the human embodiment of reasonable doubt,” Blanche said. “Have you guys heard of Goat, a goat, greatest of all time…Michael Cohen is the Gloat – the greatest liar of all time.”
Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass’s closing statement reminded jurors of a summer 2015 meeting at Trump Tower where Trump sat with Cohen and Pecker, where Pecker said he agreed to apprise them of negative stories that could thwart Trump’s campaign, so they could work to bury them. “Three rich and powerful men, high up in Trump Tower, tried to become even more powerful by controlling the information that reached voters,” Steinglass said.
Steinglass urged jurors to “tune out the noise and ignore the sideshows”. “And if you’ve done that,” Steinglass told jurors, “you will see that the people have presented powerful evidence.”
Steinglass argued each of the three stories that Donald Trump tried to have buried were unlawful contributions to the Trump campaign.
Steinglass’s closing arguments focused on driving home motive – arguing Trump knew the stories were damaging to his presidential campaign. He also tried to focus on Trump’s involvement in covering up payments and argued that the primary concern was the election, not his family.
Key characters and factsKey characters and facts
Trump hush-money trial status: Trump pleaded not guilty; the trial began on 15 April 2024.Trump hush-money trial status: Trump pleaded not guilty; the trial began on 15 April 2024.
Charges: 34 felony charges of falsifying business records.Charges: 34 felony charges of falsifying business records.
Hush-money case summary: The case involves a hush-money scheme during the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to the adult film star Stormy Daniels to quash her story about an alleged extramarital affair with the former president. Trump has denied the affair took place. Prosecutors accuse the former president of illegally reimbursing Cohen for the hush-money payment by falsely classifying the transaction, executed by the Trump Organization, as legal expenses.Hush-money case summary: The case involves a hush-money scheme during the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to the adult film star Stormy Daniels to quash her story about an alleged extramarital affair with the former president. Trump has denied the affair took place. Prosecutors accuse the former president of illegally reimbursing Cohen for the hush-money payment by falsely classifying the transaction, executed by the Trump Organization, as legal expenses.
Verdict before election? Likely.Verdict before election? Likely.
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Stay up to date on all of Donald Trump’s trials. Guardian staff will send weekly updates each Wednesday – as well as bonus editions on major trial days.Stay up to date on all of Donald Trump’s trials. Guardian staff will send weekly updates each Wednesday – as well as bonus editions on major trial days.
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Key moments in the trial so farKey moments in the trial so far
21 May: Trump’s lawyers rested their defense, without the former president himself testifying.21 May: Trump’s lawyers rested their defense, without the former president himself testifying.
14 May: Michael Cohen, the star witness in the hush-money trial, walked through key elements of the case as defense lawyers sought to undermine his credibility.14 May: Michael Cohen, the star witness in the hush-money trial, walked through key elements of the case as defense lawyers sought to undermine his credibility.
13 May: Michael Cohen testified that Trump had been intimately involved in the hush-money deal and received real-time updates on Stormy Daniels.13 May: Michael Cohen testified that Trump had been intimately involved in the hush-money deal and received real-time updates on Stormy Daniels.
10 May: Trump appeared frustrated in court while possible Cohen testimony loomed.10 May: Trump appeared frustrated in court while possible Cohen testimony loomed.
9 May: Trump attorneys sought to cast doubt on the account of the alleged tryst – but Stormy Daniels refused to concede any inconsistencies.9 May: Trump attorneys sought to cast doubt on the account of the alleged tryst – but Stormy Daniels refused to concede any inconsistencies.
7 May: Stormy Daniels undercut some of Trump’s defenses as his lawyer suggested Danield has a propensity to embellish.7 May: Stormy Daniels undercut some of Trump’s defenses as his lawyer suggested Danield has a propensity to embellish.
6 May: Prosecutors moved on to the alleged falsification of business records to cover up hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, after previously calling witnesses who described a conspiracy to kill the story.6 May: Prosecutors moved on to the alleged falsification of business records to cover up hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, after previously calling witnesses who described a conspiracy to kill the story.
3 May: Hope Hicks took the stand, describing 2016 Trump campaign staffers’ panic when a recording emerged in which Trump bragged about groping women and the former president’s complete control over the campaign.3 May: Hope Hicks took the stand, describing 2016 Trump campaign staffers’ panic when a recording emerged in which Trump bragged about groping women and the former president’s complete control over the campaign.
2 May: Keith Davidson, a lawyer who negotiated payments, testified.2 May: Keith Davidson, a lawyer who negotiated payments, testified.
30 April: Trump is fined $9,000 over gag order violations as the judge warned of jail time.30 April: Trump is fined $9,000 over gag order violations as the judge warned of jail time.
26 April: Pecker’s testimony presented a granular look into a hush-money scheme that prosecutors allege was meant to sway the 2016 election in the real estate mogul’s favor.26 April: Pecker’s testimony presented a granular look into a hush-money scheme that prosecutors allege was meant to sway the 2016 election in the real estate mogul’s favor.
25 April: Pecker testified about his role in buying a story from the model Karen McDougal about an alleged affair with Trump.25 April: Pecker testified about his role in buying a story from the model Karen McDougal about an alleged affair with Trump.
23 April: David Pecker, the National Enquirer publisher, said he was Trump’s “eyes and ears” during the 2016 election campaign.23 April: David Pecker, the National Enquirer publisher, said he was Trump’s “eyes and ears” during the 2016 election campaign.
22 April: In its opening statement, the prosecution said Trump “orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election” in his efforts to cover up an alleged affair with the adult film star Stormy Daniels.22 April: In its opening statement, the prosecution said Trump “orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election” in his efforts to cover up an alleged affair with the adult film star Stormy Daniels.
19 April: The court finally chose all 18 jurors.19 April: The court finally chose all 18 jurors.
18 April: Twelve jurors were selected after two seated jurors were removed earlier in the day.18 April: Twelve jurors were selected after two seated jurors were removed earlier in the day.
15 April: Trump’s hush-money trial began. He is the country’s first president to face a criminal trial.15 April: Trump’s hush-money trial began. He is the country’s first president to face a criminal trial.
21 May: Trump’s lawyers rested their defense, without the former president himself testifying.21 May: Trump’s lawyers rested their defense, without the former president himself testifying.
14 May: Michael Cohen, the star witness in the hush-money trial, walked through key elements of the case as defense lawyers sought to undermine his credibility.14 May: Michael Cohen, the star witness in the hush-money trial, walked through key elements of the case as defense lawyers sought to undermine his credibility.
13 May: Michael Cohen testified that Trump had been intimately involved in the hush-money deal and received real-time updates on Stormy Daniels.13 May: Michael Cohen testified that Trump had been intimately involved in the hush-money deal and received real-time updates on Stormy Daniels.
10 May: Trump appeared frustrated in court while possible Cohen testimony loomed.10 May: Trump appeared frustrated in court while possible Cohen testimony loomed.
9 May: Trump attorneys sought to cast doubt on the account of the alleged tryst – but Stormy Daniels refused to concede any inconsistencies.9 May: Trump attorneys sought to cast doubt on the account of the alleged tryst – but Stormy Daniels refused to concede any inconsistencies.
7 May: Stormy Daniels undercut some of Trump’s defenses as his lawyer suggested Danield has a propensity to embellish.7 May: Stormy Daniels undercut some of Trump’s defenses as his lawyer suggested Danield has a propensity to embellish.
6 May: Prosecutors moved on to the alleged falsification of business records to cover up hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, after previously calling witnesses who described a conspiracy to kill the story.6 May: Prosecutors moved on to the alleged falsification of business records to cover up hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, after previously calling witnesses who described a conspiracy to kill the story.
3 May: Hope Hicks took the stand, describing 2016 Trump campaign staffers’ panic when a recording emerged in which Trump bragged about groping women and the former president’s complete control over the campaign.3 May: Hope Hicks took the stand, describing 2016 Trump campaign staffers’ panic when a recording emerged in which Trump bragged about groping women and the former president’s complete control over the campaign.
2 May: Keith Davidson, a lawyer who negotiated payments, testified.2 May: Keith Davidson, a lawyer who negotiated payments, testified.
30 April: Trump is fined $9,000 over gag order violations as the judge warned of jail time.30 April: Trump is fined $9,000 over gag order violations as the judge warned of jail time.
26 April: Pecker’s testimony presented a granular look into a hush-money scheme that prosecutors allege was meant to sway the 2016 election in the real estate mogul’s favor.26 April: Pecker’s testimony presented a granular look into a hush-money scheme that prosecutors allege was meant to sway the 2016 election in the real estate mogul’s favor.
25 April: Pecker testified about his role in buying a story from the model Karen McDougal about an alleged affair with Trump.25 April: Pecker testified about his role in buying a story from the model Karen McDougal about an alleged affair with Trump.
23 April: David Pecker, the National Enquirer publisher, said he was Trump’s “eyes and ears” during the 2016 election campaign.23 April: David Pecker, the National Enquirer publisher, said he was Trump’s “eyes and ears” during the 2016 election campaign.
22 April: In its opening statement, the prosecution said Trump “orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election” in his efforts to cover up an alleged affair with the adult film star Stormy Daniels.22 April: In its opening statement, the prosecution said Trump “orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election” in his efforts to cover up an alleged affair with the adult film star Stormy Daniels.
19 April: The court finally chose all 18 jurors.19 April: The court finally chose all 18 jurors.
18 April: Twelve jurors were selected after two seated jurors were removed earlier in the day.18 April: Twelve jurors were selected after two seated jurors were removed earlier in the day.
15 April: Trump’s hush-money trial began. He is the country’s first president to face a criminal trial.15 April: Trump’s hush-money trial began. He is the country’s first president to face a criminal trial.