Stage Set for Closing Arguments, Deliberations in Trump Trial

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Dave Sanders/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty

Former President Donald Trump’s business records trial is in its final stages as closing arguments will commence on Tuesday, and deliberations will begin as soon as Wednesday.

Judge Juan Merchan set closing arguments for Tuesday after the defense rested on May 21. The New York Times reported that Merchan expects the arguments to last about a day, though the Hill noted he did state they could spill into a second day.

Trump’s defense will go first, followed by the prosecution. From there, jurors will deliberate whether or not the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is guilty of falsifying business records in connection to an alleged “hush money” payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Merchan is hopeful deliberations will begin on Wednesday, per the Times.

Jurors were dismissed after the defense rested last Tuesday and will have had a week to consider the prosecution and defense’s case before hearing the arguments.

Trump’s defense aimed to discredit the prosecution’s two top witnesses, Daniels and disgraced former lawyer Michael Cohen, during cross-examinations. When questioning Daniels, the defense seemingly worked to paint the picture she sought to financially benefit from Trump’s wealth and fame.

For instance, Trump defense attorney Susan Necheles pressed Daniels about merchandise she sold following Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s indictment of Trump, as Breitbart News noted, citing the New York Times and Daily Caller’s Katelynn Richardson:

These items included shirts, per the Times, a “Stormy Daniels Political Power” comic book, and a “Stormy Saint of Indictments” candle, which were shown to the jury.
Per the Times’ Jesse McKinley, the candle featured “Daniels draped in a Christ-like robe.”
At one point during the cross-examination, Necheles grilled Daniels over her “Make America Horny Again” strip club tour, saying she profited from it, as Richardson reported.

Similarly, when Cohen was on the stand, Trump’s defense attorney, Todd Blanche, accused him of lying about a brief 2016 phone call to Trump’s bodyguard, Keith Schiller, during which Cohen claimed to have notified Trump of an alleged payment to Daniels.

Blanche implied that the call actually regarded harassing calls Cohen had received from a teen prankster, emphasizing text messages bookending the call between Schiller and Cohen were about the harassing calls.

Breitbart News reported, citing Matthew Russell Lee of the Inner City Press:

Per Lee’s tweets, the call came in between texts to Schiller from Cohen regarding the harassing calls. The first text was at 7:48 p.m., and the second was at 8:14 p.m. The Daily Caller’s Katelynn Richardson reported from the courtroom that Schiller “left a voicemail at 8:01” and followed up “text me” at 8:02 p.m. The disgraced former attorney then called him at 8:02.
“You lied about this. You said you didn’t remember the harassing phone calls — now you claim that in the one minute and 36 seconds call you spoke about the harasser and Stormy Daniels,” Blanche said, per Lee.

Blanche also highlighted Cohen’s TikTok streams, where he has apparently fundraised while talking about the trial and Trump. In fact, Blanche’s first question on cross-examination was about Cohen calling him “a little shit on TikTok.”

Meanwhile, Merchan hit Trump with a sweeping gag order that essentially prevents him from talking about anyone involved in the trial other than Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Merchan. He has found Trump in violation of the order ten times.

“What the judge did was amazing, actually, was amazing,” Trump told reporters as he left the court on May 10. “Everybody can say whatever they want. They can say whatever they want, but I’m not allowed to say anything about anybody. It’s a disgrace, and you see it; the media sees it.”

The case is New York v. Trump, No. 71543-23, in the New York Supreme Court for New York County.

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