Defense Rests Its Case, Without Trump’s Testimony

( — On Tuesday May 21, former president Donald Trump’s defense team rested their case without Trump ever taking the stand in his own defense. Final arguments in the Manhattan-based hush money case are scheduled to take place next week on Tuesday, May 28.

The former president has been accused of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Prosecutors say that Trump falsified the records to hide the $130,000 he allegedly paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about a sexual encounter. Trump has consistently denied having an affair with Daniels.

Central to the trial was the testimony of former attorney and vice president of the Trump Organization, Michael Cohen. During his time on the stand, Cohen detailed being reimbursed for hush money payments by Donald Trump and claimed that entries in Trump’s ledger referring to a legal retainer were falsified. Robert J. Costello, an attorney for the Trump defense team, called into question Cohen’s credibility. He related an incident where Cohen allegedly told him that he didn’t have “anything on Donald Trump”, and portrayed Cohen as unreliable and obsessed with the former president.

The trial has been contentious every step of the way. Trump’s legal team has made attempts to get the trial dismissed and Judge Juan Merchan hit the former president with a gag order. Judge Merchan has also had somewhat heated exchanges with both Costello and Emil Bove, who is another lawyer for the Trump legal team. As Trump is a prominent public figure who inspires a lot of powerful emotions and opinions, both positive and negative, his team have requested specific bias instructions for the jurors. Judge Merchan agreed to use a version of the instructions that had been re-worded by the prosecution for more neutral language.

One of the biggest surprises for many was the fact that Donald Trump did not take the stand, after publicly stating that he would. However, Trump and his team have indicated that, due to the restrictions about what he could say, and about whom, that taking the stand would violate the Judge’s gag order. Judge Merchan claims that there is nothing in the gag order that would prevent Trump from taking the stand. If Trump had comments in his defense that would violate the gag order, it is perhaps better that he avoid taking the stand.

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