Wednesday Briefing: Closing Arguments in Trump’s Criminal Trial

Donald Trump sitting in a courtroom during his trial in New York yesterday. Credit…Pool photo by Steven Hirsch

The prosecution and defense made their closing arguments to the jury yesterday in the first criminal prosecution of an American president. Here are live updates.

The prosecutor, Joshua Steinglass, said Donald Trump engaged in a fraud against the American people on the eve of the 2016 election by silencing a porn star’s account of a sexual encounter with him. He said the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels was part of a conspiracy that “could very well be what got President Trump elected.”

Steinglass, who had not yet finished his remarks at our publication time, wove a sweeping story of how Trump, with help from Michael Cohen, his former fixer, and the tabloid The National Enquirer, sought to bury negative news stories before the election. “This was overt election fraud,” he said, “an act in furtherance of the conspiracy to promote Mr. Trump’s election by unlawful means.”

Earlier in the day, Todd Blanche, Trump’s lawyer, spent hours attacking the credibility of Cohen, calling him “the G.L.O.A.T.,” or the “greatest liar of all time.”

Blanche’s calculus is simple: If the jurors do not believe Cohen, that may constitute reasonable doubt, which could make it impossible to convict his client. Blanche at one point called Cohen “the human embodiment of reasonable doubt, literally.”

As soon as Wednesday, the judge, Juan Merchan, will instruct jurors on the relevant law before they begin deliberations. The jury could take anywhere from hours to weeks to reach a verdict. If convicted, Trump faces up to four years in prison.

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