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Defense rests its case without Trump testifying in his hush money trial

Trump team rests case

UPDATE 7:28 a.m.

Donald Trump’s lawyers rested their defense Monday in the former president’s New York hush money trial, bringing the case one step closer to final arguments.

The prosecution will get a chance to call rebuttal witnesses now that the defense witnesses have had their turn on the stand. The judge has said he expects closing arguments to happen on May 28, the Tuesday after Memorial Day.

After more than four weeks of testimony, jurors could begin deliberating as soon as next week to decide whether Trump is guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

Prosecutors have accused Trump of a scheme to bury negative stories to fend off damage to his 2016 presidential campaign and then falsifying internal business records to cover it up.

Trump, the first former American president to be tried criminally, has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing in the case, which he has slammed as politically motivated.


ORIGINAL 6:07 a.m.

Witness testimony in Donald Trump's hush money trial could enter its final day on Tuesday with the defense expected to rest its case after calling just a handful of witnesses. Should the defense rest its case, Judge Juan M. Merchan has said he will send the jury home until closing arguments the day after Memorial Day.

Prosecutors rested their case Monday after star witness Michael Cohen concluded his testimony. Cohen spent nearly four full days on the witness stand, placing the former president directly at the center of the alleged scheme to stifle negative stories to fend off damage to his White House bid. Among other things, Cohen told jurors that Trump promised to reimburse him for the money he fronted and was regularly updated about efforts to silence women who alleged sexual encounters with him. Trump denies the women’s claims.

The defense's calling of attorney Robert Costello to the stand was a source of discord for lawyers on both sides, with the prosecution arguing that he shouldn't be allowed to testify at all. The judge ultimately permitted the defense to question him about two allegedly inconsistent statements in Cohen’s testimony and to “offer some rebuttal” to his testimony.

A ruling on the defense's motion to dismiss the case might also come on Tuesday.

It remains unclear if Trump will testify.

The trial is in its 20th day.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

The case is the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president and the first of four prosecutions of Trump to reach a jury.

Currently:

— Trump campaign calls Cannes film ‘The Apprentice’ ‘blatantly false,’ vows legal action

— Trump’s social media account shares a campaign video with a headline about a ‘unified Reich’

— Trump hush money case: A timeline of key events

— Key players: Who’s who at Trump’s hush money criminal trial

— Hush money, catch and kill and more: A guide to unique terms used at Trump’s trial

Here's the latest:

WHO WILL BE IN COURT WITH TRUMP?

Donald Trump will be joined Tuesday by an entourage including actor Joe Piscopo as well as his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., former acting attorney general Matt Whitaker and former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, according to his campaign.

He’ll also be accompanied by members of Congress including Sen. Eric Schmitt and Reps. Ronny Jackson, Troy Nehls and Maria Salazar.

RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS WAITING IN THE WINGS

As witness testimony resumes in Donald Trump's criminal trial on Tuesday, a ruling on the defense's motion to dismiss the case is waiting in the wings.

Defense attorneys asked Judge Juan M. Merchan to dismiss the case on Monday after court adjourned for the day, arguing that prosecutors had failed to prove their case and there was no evidence of falsified business records or an intent to defraud.

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo shot back that “the trial evidence overwhelmingly supports each element” of the alleged offenses, and the case should proceed to the jury.

Colangelo argued that the jury has seen “overwhelming” evidence that the records of the payments to Michael Cohen were falsely categorized as payments for legal services instead of reimbursement and that there was ample evidence that the alleged fudging was done to deceive people — including the voting public and government regulators.

Merchan did not indicate when exactly he would make a decision on the motion.

COSTELLO TO RETURN TO THE STAND

Attorney Robert Costello will return to the witness stand on Tuesday as Donald Trump's hush money trial enters its 20th day.

Costello's testimony was a source of discord on Monday between attorneys on both sides, with prosecutors arguing that he should not be allowed to testify at all.

Before the attorney took the stand, Judge Juan M. Merchan ruled that he would allow the defense to question him about two allegedly inconsistent statements in Michael Cohen’s testimony and to “offer some rebuttal” to his testimony.

Costello, a former federal prosecutor in New York, is relevant to Donald Trump’s hush money case due to his role as a Michael Cohen antagonist and critic in the years since their professional relationship splintered.

The attorney had offered to represent Cohen soon after the lawyer’s hotel room, office and home were raided by the FBI in 2018 and as he faced a decision about whether to remain defiant in the face of a criminal investigation or to cooperate with investigators in hopes of securing more lenient treatment.

Costello was invited last year to appear before the grand jury that indicted Trump after asserting that he had information that undermined Cohen’s credibility.

CLOSING ARGUMENTS COULD BE THE TUESDAY AFTER MEMORIAL DAY

Closing arguments in Donald Trump's criminal trial could take place the day after Memorial Day.

Judge Juan M. Merchan said Monday that when the defense rests its case, he will send the jury home until closing arguments on the day after Memorial Day. Should that happen, jurors will spend a full week away from the trial.

Merchan cited scheduling issues in giving the May 28 date.

The defense is expected to rest its case on Tuesday after calling just a handfull of witnesses, including attorney Robert Costello.



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