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Donald Trump trial: what are the potential consequences of the criminal trial for the secrecy of money?

Donald Trump trial: what are the potential consequences of the criminal trial for the secrecy of money?

 


NEW YORK — With former President Donald Trump's criminal trial in Manhattan well underway, experts say there are several potential outcomes and disagree on whether the prosecution has yet proved his thesis.

The prosecution is expected to rest after former Trump fixer Michael Cohen concludes testimony on Monday, and then it will be the defense's turn to make its case to the jury.

Trump, who has denied accusations in the cases, and his defense team have not revealed whether he will testify in his own defense, but one expert said the former president may want to take the case into his own hands.

“In my experience in white-collar cases, even if defense attorneys try to keep their client off the stand — because it hurts them rather than helps them — I am not sure he can help it,” Chris Timmons, a former prosecutor and ABC News legal contributor, said in an interview.

“He's someone who likes to be in control. I think he probably feels like he's lost control,” Timmons said.

The defense left the door open Thursday for Trump's testimony.

“There is always a moment in a case where the case is won or lost. I think in this particular case, if the former president testifies, that will be that moment. A lot will depend on this cross-examination ” Timmons said.

“It would be interesting to see if he actually stuck to the questions that were asked of him, or if he would deviate from the script,” Timmons said.

Could Trump be convicted?

Although the prosecution has presented strong factual evidence, its case has yet to prove the technical elements of the crime Trump is accused of, another expert told ABC News.

“They're missing elements in the prosecution's case that they should establish to convict them,” Gregory Germain, an attorney and law professor at Syracuse University, told ABC News.

The prosecution must prove that Trump falsified business records as part of a separate crime, Germain said.

Whether Trump will be convicted of these charges will likely depend largely on what advice the judge gives the jury on how to reach a verdict.

“If the judge avoids the difficult legal questions in the case and oversimplifies what he has to find, then I think the jury will probably find him guilty,” Germain said.

“I'm afraid the judge will gloss over the legal questions and just say to the jury: Do you think Trump falsified business records in order to hide information from the public during an election? And he's probably guilty of that, but I do not do it.” I don’t think it constitutes a crime,” Germain said.

But even so, with two business lawyers on the jury, it could be difficult for them to gloss over missing legal elements in the case, according to Germain.

To win a conviction, the prosecution must prove to the jury that Trump knew he allegedly falsified the records and that it was done for political reasons – to prevent the public from knowing he had paid money to the Adult film actress Stormy Daniels. — Timmons said.

“It’s a bit of a technical question and so the jury might struggle with that,” Timmons said.

But the prosecution presented a strong case to prove the facts, Timmons said.

“As far as the conviction goes, at least as far as their evidence goes, it seems like they proved what they needed to prove,” Timmons said. “I don’t think the defense has scored many points in cross-examination so far.”

Directed verdict

Before presenting its case, the defense will also have the opportunity to file a motion for a directed verdict – when a judge agrees with the defense that the prosecution has not provided enough evidence for a conviction and asserts that it does not There is no need for a jury to decide.

The defense would likely argue that elements of the crime haven't been proven and ask the judge to dismiss the case. If denied, the defense could resubmit the motion after presenting its arguments and claiming it has refuted the prosecution's case, Germain said.

The judge is unlikely to issue a directed verdict, Timmons and Germain agreed.

“In this particular case, I think there is enough evidence for the case to go to the jury,” Timmons said.

The judge has already denied previous motions to dismiss the case and is unlikely to allow a directed verdict, Germain said.

A mistrial

A mistrial, when a judge determines a case is inconclusive and throws it out, could potentially be declared if the jury is unable to reach a verdict, Timmons said.

“I'm curious to see how long the jury stays out. It's always an interesting thing to see. Particularly, if they're having trouble making a decision, when does the judge decide there's Was there enough time for the jury to declare a mistrial and a hung jury,” Timmons said.

“I would be concerned about the hung jury in this case,” Timmons said. “One of the jurors who served on the jury said he got his news from two different sources, one of which was Trump's Truth Social. So I think he'll be more likely to want to believe all that What does the president say?

But judges don't like to grant mistrials, especially in long cases. In this case, a lot of time was spent on the proceedings, including jury selection, Timmons said.

“I don’t think the trial could be botched because of anything the parties did or what the attorneys did,” Timmons said.

The closest the case came to a mistrial was when Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, testified in great detail about her alleged sexual relationship with Trump — but even then the judge said it was close to the limit but did not warrant a mistrial. mistrial, according to Timmons. Trump has denied having sex with Daniels.

Call possible

If convicted, it is likely that Trump will appeal the decision, but that could take years, Germain said.

“Unless the court expedites the process, the problem will not be resolved before the election. And I don't think they would expedite the process if it was just a conviction for which he is not didn't go to prison,” Germain said.

If he is sentenced to prison, it is likely that an accelerated timetable will be established to determine whether he should be released from prison, Germain said.

“For non-violent first-time offenders like Trump, you will almost never get prison time. So it would be extraordinary and against the guidelines to sentence Trump to prison, even if he is convicted of these charges,” Germain said.

In an appeal, it's likely the appeals court could find that major legal elements are missing from the prosecution's case, Germain said.

Timmons disagreed.

“I haven't seen anything that jumped out at me as an issue on appeal. Perhaps the details provided by Stormy Daniels regarding the alleged sexual relations she had with him that could be brought before the Court appeals might decide that it's a little too salacious and that may have led to a guilty verdict, but it's really hard to win an appeal in criminal court,” Timmons said.

Although he believes the allegations are true, Germain said the prosecution has not proven the technical elements of the crime.

“If the judge clearly lays out the legal elements that need to be proven in this case, I think he will be acquitted,” Germain said.

Timmons believes that even though the prosecution has presented a strong case, it is still possible that a jury will find Trump not guilty.

“Even if the State or the People prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury could still decide that they don't like the case for whatever reason, and decide to acquit him. That bothers me. happened before when I was a prosecutor,” Timmons said.

“I had a case, it was one of the best cases I ever tried, that ended in a not guilty verdict because the jurors just didn't like the case. It can “So being especially true when it comes to high-profile individuals, this can happen,” Timmons said.

The technical nature of the case could also make it difficult for the jury to convict Trump, Timmons said.

The prosecution, which bases much of its case on testimony from Trump's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, could also pose problems for the jury.

“One issue they're probably going to point out is that a lot of the case rests on Michael Cohen and he's someone who is willing to lie and has done so in the past,” Timmons said.

Copyright 2024 ABC News Internet Ventures.

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