NY v Trump: Jury reaches a verdict in former president’s historic criminal trial

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The jury in New York v. Trump found former President Trump guilty of charges brought against him by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged former President Donald Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.

Trump pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of 4 years. 

Judge Juan Merchan invited the jury into the courtroom to read its verdict after deliberations.

Prosecutors needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump falsified those records to conceal a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic performer, in the lead-up to the 2016 election to silence her about an alleged affair with Trump in 2006.

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Donald Trump sits in the courtroom for the first day of opening arguments in his Manhattan criminal trial.

Former president Donald Trump awaits the start of proceedings at Manhattan criminal court, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York.  (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura, Pool)

During closing arguments, defense attorneys for former President Trump told the jury Tuesday he is innocent, did not commit any crimes and that Bragg “did not meet the burden of proof. Period.” 

“President Trump is innocent. He did not commit any crimes. The district attorney did not meet the burden of proof. Period,” Blanche said. 

Blanche added that the case is “simple” and it is “not a guilty verdict.” 

“This case is about documents; it is a paper case,” Blanche said. “This case is not about an encounter with Stormy Daniels 18 years ago. It is not even about a nondisclosure agreement signed eight years ago.”

Blanche said the charges are about whether Trump “had anything” to do with payments to his ex-attorney, Michael Cohen, on his personal accounting ledger.

“The answer? The bookings were accurate and there was no intent to defraud and there was no conspiracy to influence the 2016 election,” Blanche said. “The proof doesn’t add up.”

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Blanche told the jury they cannot convict Trump based on Cohen’s testimony, recalling how Trump’s ex-attorney “took the stand and then lied.”

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“The records are not false and there was no intent to defraud,” he said.

Blanche said not one single invoice was sent to Trump directly and that Cohen billed Trump “for services rendered.” He also told the jury Cohen rendered services as Trump’s personal attorney in 2017.

Blanche noted Cohen had lied to both Houses of Congress, federal judges, state judges and family.

“You cannot send someone to prison based upon the words of Michael Cohen,” Blanche said, adding that a verdict needs to be reached based on evidence from documents and witnesses. “If you do that, this is a very quick and easy not-guilty verdict.” 

Meanwhile, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass delivered his closing argument for more than five hours Tuesday, saying the prosecution has presented “powerful” evidence in their case against Trump. 

Steinglass said Trump’s intent to defraud “could not be any clearer,” arguing that it would have been far easier for him to pay Stormy Daniels directly. Instead, the prosecutor said, he concocted an elaborate scheme and everything he and his cohorts did was “cloaked in lies.”

“The name of the game was concealment and all roads lead inescapably to the man who benefited the most: the defendant, former President Donald Trump,” Steinglass said.

Steinglass defended the prosecution’s use of Michael Cohen as a witness, telling the jury: “I’m not asking you to feel bad for Michael Cohen. He made his bed.” 

“But you can hardly blame him for making money from the one thing he has left, which is his knowledge of the inner workings of the Trump Organization,” he said. 

“We didn’t choose Michael Cohen to be our witness. We didn’t pick him up at the witness store,” Steinglass said. “The defendant chose Michael Cohen to be his fixer because he was willing to lie and cheat on the defendant’s behalf.” 

Trump defense attorneys, in their second attempt to dismiss the case earlier this month, said no evidence had been presented by the prosecution to connect the former president to any falsification of business records. Defense attorneys motioned for dismissal after Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and the prosecution’s “star witness,” finished his testimony. 

He testified that he personally made the $130,000 payment to Daniels using a home equity line of credit in an effort to conceal the payment from his wife. Cohen said he did this because Trump told him to “handle it” and prevent a negative story from coming out ahead of the election.

But Trump’s defense attorneys maintained that the president never directed Cohen to do so.

Donald Trump listens as defense lawyer Todd Blanche presents closing arguments

Former U.S. President Donald Trump listens as defense lawyer Todd Blanche presents closing arguments duri (REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg )

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Cohen testified that he was “reimbursed $420,000” for the $130,000 he paid to Daniels. Cohen said former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg suggested he “gross up” the payments and that Trump knew the details of the reimbursement.

The prosecution presented Cohen with 11 checks totaling $420,000. Cohen confirmed that they were all received and deposited. The checks had a description of a “retainer,” which Cohen said was false.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 



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