Trump’s Defense Rests; Closing Arguments Set

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

( – In a crucial new development for Donald Trump, the former president’s defense lawyers have concluded their case at his criminal so-called “hush money” trial without calling the former president to testify.

The decision by Donald Trump not to testify in his criminal trial was anticipated, given the inherent risks associated with a defendant taking the stand, according to a Reuters report highlighted by CNBC.

Trump had previously declared his absolute readiness to testify in the proceedings, where he is charged with the falsification of business records concerning payments made to his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. These payments were for $130,000 given to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to suppress information about an alleged sexual affair with Trump.

In court, Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, announced to Judge Juan Merchan of the Manhattan Supreme Court, “Your honor, the defense rests.”

The defense concluded its presentation of evidence and witness testimony with their questioning of Robert Costello, a criminal defense lawyer and one of the mere two witnesses they summoned.

The trial is set to move to closing arguments on May 28.

Upon being questioned about his father’s decision not to testify, Donald Trump Jr. criticized the proceedings, asking reporters, “Why would you justify this insanity?”

He further disparaged the prosecution’s witnesses by saying, “Look at the clowns that they put on there,” and elaborated on the court’s environment: “You don’t subject yourself to that nonsense. You’re going into a kangaroo court. There is nothing more, nothing less. There’d be absolutely no reason, no justification to do that whatsoever.”

While this trial unfolds, the former president also faces criminal prosecutions in three additional jurisdictions and is preparing for a November electoral rematch against President Joe Biden, following their 2020 contest.

During the trial, Judge Merchan reprimanded Costello, a former federal prosecutor, for his conduct in court which included glaring at the judge and muttering under his breath after objections from prosecutors were sustained. Merchan issued a stern warning: “I’m putting you on notice that your conduct is contemptuous now. If you stare me down one more time, I will remove you from the stand.”

Costello’s testimony included details of his interactions with Cohen in early 2018 following the FBI’s raid on Cohen’s home and offices. This raid was part of a criminal investigation into payments made two years prior to Daniels.

Cohen has admitted to making the payment to Daniels to prevent her from revealing a supposed 2006 encounter with Trump, aiming to protect Trump’s chances in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump denies any sexual relations with Daniels and a Playboy model who also received hush money through a supermarket tabloid publisher with connections to him. He is formally accused in this case of falsifying business records to cover the reimbursement to Cohen for the payment.

The prosecution aims to demonstrate that the payment to Daniels was not only a business records issue but also part of a broader conspiracy to influence the 2016 election, as outlined in a report by National Review.

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