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Trump trial live updates: Prosecution says ‘documents don’t lie’ as Cohen’s credibility questioned

Donald Trump’s hush money trial is coming to an end. Here’s what to expect

Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial has entered its final stages as the defense concluded its closing argument by listing 10 reasons the jury should have reasonable doubts about the case against the former president.

Lead Trump lawyer Todd Blanche hammered the credibility of former fixer to the defendant Michael Cohen, labeling him the “MVP of liars” and “GLOAT” — Greatest Liar Of All Time.

Mr Trump stands accused by Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg of falsifying business records in order to conceal a $130,000 payment made to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels in October 2016 to ensure her silence about a sexual encounter she alleges she had with the politician a decade earlier. The former president denies both the affair and the 34 charges.

After five weeks of often explosive testimony, the prosecution hopes to convince the jury of 12 Manhattanites that the misdemeanour offenses with which the defendant has been charged should be elevated to felonies because they were carried out to subvert a presidential election.

Prosecutors are now delivering their summation. The jury could begin its deliberations as soon as Wednesday.

Alex Woodward is covering the trial for The Independent live from court.

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Court taking a short break

“We’ll never know if this effort to hoodwink” voters had worked to get Trump elected, but jurors don’t have to decide that, Steinglass says.

The “reimbursements to Cohen were cloaked in false business records,” though jurors won’t have to decide “whether or not this conspiracy actually succeeded in tipping the scales.”

The court is now taking a short break and Judge Merchan says that the jurors look alert, and “we’re not losing anyone”.

He suggests we could keep going up to 7pm or 8pm if needed, but they’ll check in again if we go that long.

Alex Woodward28 May 2024 21:59

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Defense lawyer Todd Blanche sits with former U.S. President Donald Trump as prosecutor Joshua Steinglass presents closing arguments while Justice Juan Merchan presides during Trump's criminal trial
Defense lawyer Todd Blanche sits with former U.S. President Donald Trump as prosecutor Joshua Steinglass presents closing arguments while Justice Juan Merchan presides during Trump’s criminal trial (REUTERS)

Steinglass notes that it’s “no coincidence” that the sex happened in 2006 but wasn’t the subject of an NDA until 10 years later.

His “primary concern was not his family,” as the defense has argued because he would’ve quashed it sooner, “but the election.”

Alex Woodward28 May 2024 21:49

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Trump didn’t sign the NDA himself.

“That’s kind of the whole point. To keep him away from the documentation,” says Steinglass.

“The objective of the NDA was to keep Stormy Daniels quiet, period, and they had enough to do that.”

Alex Woodward28 May 2024 21:44

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The business narrative in the Know Your Customer form for Cohen’s LLC notes it is for “real estate” consulting.

Then the purpose of the wire transfer: “retainer”.

“This wasn’t a retainer. This was a payoff.”

The deal was signed on October 28: “11 days before Election Day.”

Alex Woodward28 May 2024 21:43

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Just a hilarious amount of calls.

Then, on October 26, Cohen called Trump twice – all in just half an hour before Cohen opened the account to wire cash to Keith Davidson for the Stormy Daniels deal.

“That’s pretty damning,” Steinglass says.

Alex Woodward28 May 2024 21:41

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All of the messages and back-and-forth scrambling between Michael Cohen, David Pecker, Dylan Howard and Keith Davidson, and then Cohen’s messages to his banker Garry Farro to set up the shell company have all been displayed chronologically. Steinglass reads them in part and supplements them by reading parts of screenshots of their trial testimony to give it all extra context.

We’ve seen all of this in parts but during individual testimony. A lot of the prosecution’s summations have been just a straightforward but compelling story that shows the makings of the transaction.

Alex Woodward28 May 2024 21:37

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Stormy Daniels was walking, talking reminder that Trump was not only words after Access Hollywood tape

We hear some of his campaign rally comments about the allegations and tweets about those reports and their impacts on women voters.

Westerhout said everyone was worried except Trump but admitted that she had “zero” knowledge of Trump’s reactions because she wasn’t there in 2016.

But Hope Hicks said that Trump “knew it was a crisis”.

“It caused pandemonium in the campaign,” Steinglass says.

And “during the exact same month … he was negotiating to muzzle a porn star”.

“Stormy Daniels was a walking, talking reminder that the defendant was not only words. She would’ve totally undermined his strategy for spinning the Access Hollywood tape.”

We rewind to June 2016, when Rodriguez and Howard discussed the story that Daniels was shopping.

“No one was particularly interested in this point because there was nothing to kill.”

That changed after Access Hollywood. “That changed the whole landscape.”

Alex Woodward28 May 2024 21:26

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Steinglass moves through the timeline: The Washington Post published the news about the Access Hollywood tape on October 7, Cohen was in London at the time and emailed Bannon asking “Whose doing damage control here?“, Trump posted a “mealy-mouthed” response on his campaign website dismissing the tape as “locker room banter”

On October 8, he tweeted out a video to “stop the bleeding” and tried to distinguish between words and actions by contrasting himself to Bill Clinton.

That day, Cohen emailed Dylan Howard at AMI to remove an old story about Trump as “Playboy Man” from Radar Online.

“They were privately scrubbing the internet and chasing down rumors” to ensure their attempts to “spin” the tape “didn’t backfire,” Steinglass says.

Cohen also called Trump and they spoke for nearly eight minutes to strategize and spin the comments as locker room talk. There was a debate the next day and Trump was immediately questioned about the tape.

The tape and other allegations from women could have cost him the election “and the campaign knew it,” Steinglass says.

Alex Woodward28 May 2024 21:17

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Steinglass moves on to the Access Hollywood tape, when “all of a student there was a video of a presidential nominee” talking about “grabbing women by the genitals”.

The defense tried to argue that the idea that the campaign was in a tailspin came from Cohen, but Steinglass notes it was Hope Hicks who explained how they were in damage control mode.

Alex Woodward28 May 2024 21:11

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Court resumes following afternoon break

We’re back. Judge Juan Merchan says we’ll take another break around 5:30pm. We’re doing the whole damn thing today folks…

Tiffany Trump, Lara, Eric and Don Jr are back in the front row.

The sidebar ends and Judge Merchan says they were just discussing scheduling for today — Instead of going to 5.30pm, they’ll break at 5pm, then pick up at 5:30 to “see how everyone’s doing.”

Steinglass will pick back up with his summations momentarily. He’s got less than an hour on the clock before the next break.

Alex Woodward28 May 2024 21:07


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