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Closing arguments, verdict: Trump's silent trial enters home stretch | Donald Trump News

Closing arguments, verdict: Trump's silent trial enters home stretch |  Donald Trump News


After more than four weeks and nearly two dozen witnesses, the secret trial of former US President Donald Trump is now entering its home stretch.

Prosecutors and Trump's defense team will make their closing arguments starting Tuesday morning in the New York courtroom that has hosted a series of heated exchanges and memorable moments since testimony began in late April.

The jury will then be asked to deliberate and render a verdict, just months before the country goes to the polls for what is expected to be a hotly contested election in November between Trump, a Republican, and his Democratic rival, President Joe Biden.

Trump, who faces 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with secret payments made to an adult film star before the 2016 presidential election, has pleaded not guilty.

Here's everything you need to know about this historic case, the first criminal trial against a former U.S. president, and what's next.

What's happening at Trump's secret trial this week?

Prosecutors and defense attorneys will have their final opportunity to address the jury during closing arguments, which are expected to last much of Tuesday.

The arguments function as hour-long recaps of the key points each side wants to make before jurors begin their deliberations.

The defense team will intervene first, followed by the prosecution.

What will both parties stand for?

Prosecutors sought to argue throughout the trial that Trump participated in a hush money scheme aimed at stifling bad press that could have hurt his chances in the 2016 presidential election, which he won.

They showed the jury financial statements and questioned several witnesses, including Stormy Daniels, the adult film star whose alleged affair with Trump is at the center of the case. Trump has denied any sexual relationship.

The prosecution's star witness, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, also testified that the former president was directly involved in the scheme and authorized the payments.

The defense, for its part, sought to discredit the witnesses, including by portraying Cohen as a serial liar. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal charges related to the secret payments as well as lying to the U.S. Congress.

But this week, Trump's team has nothing to prove or convince jurors of his innocence.

To avoid a conviction, they must convince at least one of 12 jurors that prosecutors failed to prove Trump's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the standard for criminal cases.

The defense can also argue one last time that Trump was more concerned with protecting his family from salacious stories, not winning the election, when it came to the hush money that was paid.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was the prosecution's star witness. [Eduardo Munoz/Reuters]
What should the jury decide?

While courtroom drama has dominated media coverage of the trial, the case boils down to whether Trump knowingly concealed a $130,000 payment to Daniels for his silence in an effort to prevent his claims from derailing his candidacy for office. the White House in 2016.

The jury must decide not only whether Trump caused the payment records to be falsified, but also whether he did it to cover up another crime, an undeclared campaign donation in this case. Both of these findings would make the alleged violations misdemeanors under New York State law.

In an interview with Al Jazeera at the start of the trial, Gregory Germain, a law professor at Syracuse University in upstate New York, summarized the two essential elements of the indictment: where is the fraud and where is the fraud? [secondary] crime?

After each side presents their closing arguments, the judge in the case, Juan Merchan, will give the jury lengthy instructions on how to interpret the law and evidence during their deliberations. This could happen as early as Wednesday.

How do the jury deliberations take place?

The deliberations will take place in secret in a room reserved specifically for jurors and according to a deliberately opaque process.

During their deliberations, jurors will have access to all of the evidence and can ask questions of the judge, who will speak with prosecutors and defense attorneys before deciding how to respond.

There is no time limit for deliberating. Jurors must weigh 34 counts of falsifying business records, which could take some time and a verdict may not be returned by the end of the week.

To reach a verdict of guilty or not guilty, all 12 jurors must agree with the decision for the judge to accept it. If the jury is unable to reach a unanimous verdict, it will be deadlocked and Merchan would declare a mistrial.

Once jurors inform the court that they have reached a verdict, Merchan will call the parties into the courtroom to hear it read by the jury foreman. Merchan has yet to confirm the verdict and make a final judgment. Either party can ask him to overrule the jury.

What happens if Trump is found guilty?

If Trump is found guilty, it will likely be several weeks or months before he is sentenced.

As a first-time offender of a nonviolent crime, the ex-president and presumptive Republican Party nominee for the 2024 presidential election would likely be released on bail in the meantime.

The maximum penalty for Trump's crime of falsifying business records is up to four years in prison. But even if jail time is a possibility, experts say a fine, probation or community service are all much more likely options.

Will a conviction affect Trump's electoral chances?

This remains unclear.

An ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted in early May found that an overwhelming 80 percent of Trump supporters said they would support the former president in November, even if he were convicted of a crime.

But 16 percent said they would reconsider their support if he were found guilty, while 4 percent said they would withdraw it, the poll found.

Another poll, released last week by Quinnipiac University, showed that 6 percent of Trump voters said they would be less likely to vote for Trump if he were convicted, 24 percent said that they would be more likely to vote for him and 68 percent said they would. does not influence their choice.

Although the percentage of voters saying they would abandon Trump if he were convicted is small, it could still prove important in a neck-and-neck fight between Trump and Biden.

Will a conviction bring down Trump? The vast majority of his supporters believe that it would not be serious. But in an extremely close race, that 6 percent could tip the scales, said Tim Malloy, a polling analyst at Quinnipiac University.




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