What To Expect As Trump’s Criminal Trial Nears Its End

Donald Trump’s historic hush money trial, which could potentially make the presumptive Republican nominee for president a convicted felon, is winding down.

Here’s what to expect in the coming days.

Prosecutors and the former president’s defense team will each present their closing arguments on Tuesday. This is each side’s opportunity to summarize what they’ve presented at trial over the last several weeks and their last chance to convince jurors that they’ve proved their case.

Expect prosecutors to remind jurors of the testimony from the 18 witnesses they called, all of whom filled in the picture of how, in a scheme arranged by the now-disbarred attorney Michael Cohen just days before the 2016 election, Trump allegedly covered up a hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels, who said she’d had an extramarital affair with Trump in 2006.

Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom during his hush money trial on May 21 at Manhattan Criminal Court. Judge Juan Merchan says to expect summations and closing arguments this week before a jury decides on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.
Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom during his hush money trial on May 21 at Manhattan Criminal Court. Judge Juan Merchan says to expect summations and closing arguments this week before a jury decides on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

At the heart of the case is a series of monthly checks, invoices and other financial statements from 2017 that, according to prosecutors and Cohen’s testimony, indicate Trump was repaying Cohen for the $130,000 hush money payment he handled. Those documents, which were labeled as payment for Cohen’s legal services, represent the business documents Trump is accused of falsifying.

Other highlights from the prosecution included testimony from David Pecker, former CEO of the National Enquirer’s publisher, who said he had an agreement with Trump to publish flattering stories about the then-candidate, to run unflattering articles about his political opponents and to help block the publication of stories that could damage Trump’s reputation.

And despite the defense team’s suggestion that Trump was unaware of the repayments, prosecutors argued, the former president emphasized in his various books that it’s crucial for a businessman to closely oversee every dollar spent.

Michael Cohen, the former private lawyer and fixer for Donald Trump, was a key witness for the prosecution.
Michael Cohen, the former private lawyer and fixer for Donald Trump, was a key witness for the prosecution.

Andrea Renault/Star Max via Getty Images

Expect Trump’s lawyers to focus their closing arguments on discrediting the prosecutions’ top witnesses, namely Cohen and Daniels.

The former cannot be trusted because he is a convicted felon, they argued at trial, and he admitted to lying on behalf of Trump and lying to Congress.

Daniels has had minor inconsistencies in stories she’s told about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump over the years, the defense argued, and emphasized that Daniels has profited off her story, including by publishing a memoir in 2018.

Hush money payments are not inherently illegal, the defense stated throughout trial, and the Manhattan district attorney’s office should never have brought this case forward.

Donald Trump sits in court on May 6.
Donald Trump sits in court on May 6.

STEVEN HIRSCH via Getty Images

The 12 jurors could then head into deliberations as early as Wednesday. Before they begin their closed-door discussion, Judge Juan Merchan will give them instructions, which he said will take at least an hour.

Reaching a unanimous verdict could take anywhere from minutes to hours to days. Whatever they decide, it will mark the first time a jury has ruled on criminal charges against a U.S. president, past or present.

Trump also faces more than 50 charges in three other indictments. Two involve claims of election interference and one relates to classified documents taken from the White House. Trial dates for those cases have not yet been set.



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