Jury Deliberations Begin in Trump’s Hush Money Criminal Trial

Jimmy Williams

On Wednesday, the jury began deliberations in Donald Trump’s hush money trial, a landmark case as it marks the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president. The jury, consisting of seven men and five women, started discussing the case in a private room just before 11:30 a.m.

“It is not my responsibility to judge the evidence here. It is yours,” Judge Juan M. Merchan reminded the jurors as they began their deliberations.

Trump voiced his frustration after leaving the courtroom, describing the trial as “very unfair.” He commented, “Mother Teresa could not beat those charges, but we’ll see. We’ll see how we do.”

Trump, his lawyers, and the prosecutors were instructed to stay inside the courthouse during deliberations. Behind closed doors, Trump continued to post on his social media network, claiming the trial was unfair and asserting, “There is no crime!”

Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with an alleged scheme to hide potentially embarrassing stories during his 2016 presidential campaign. The charges stem from reimbursements paid to Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, who made a $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels to silence her claims of a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. Trump allegedly misrepresented these reimbursements as legal expenses.

To convict Trump, the jury must unanimously agree that he created fraudulent entries in his company’s records with the intent to commit or conceal another crime. Prosecutors argue that Trump’s actions violated New York election law, which prohibits conspirators from using unlawful means to influence an election.

The jury, a diverse group of Manhattan residents, appeared highly engaged throughout the trial, taking notes and closely observing witnesses like Cohen and Daniels. Deliberations followed intense closing arguments, where a prosecutor spoke for over five hours, while Trump’s defense spoke for about half that time.

Judge Merchan provided the jury with instructions on assessing witness testimony, highlighting factors such as plausibility, consistency, manner on the stand, and potential motives to lie. He emphasized, “There is no particular formula for evaluating the truthfulness and accuracy of another person’s statement.”

The judge also explained the concept of accessorial liability, where Trump could be held responsible for the actions of others if he solicited or commanded them to engage in illegal conduct. Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass argued that Trump set in motion events leading to the creation of false business records.

“No one is saying the defendant actually got behind a computer and typed in the false vouchers,” Steinglass said. “But he set in motion a chain of events that led to the creation of the false business records.”

The jury must reach a unanimous verdict. If needed, six alternate jurors, who have also attended the trial, will be on standby to replace any juror who becomes unavailable, restarting deliberations if that occurs.

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