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Trump Chooses Not to Take the Stand, and the Defense Rests

The jury heard his voice, saw his tweets and watched footage of him campaigning for the presidency. But in the end, the 12 New Yorkers weighing the fate of Donald J. Trump did not see him testify.

On Tuesday, the defense rested its case after Mr. Trump declined to take the stand at his own criminal trial, forfeiting his only opportunity to defend himself but also avoiding what could have been a calamitous unforced error. His decision concluded the testimony phase of the trial, and next week, the jury is expected to begin the momentous task of determining whether or not the former — and perhaps future — president is a felon.

Defendants rarely testify, but Mr. Trump stands apart as the only American president to ever face a criminal trial, a serial litigant who thinks of himself as his own best advocate. Mr. Trump, who is once again the presumptive Republican nominee, had flirted publicly with the possibility of testifying.

But on Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump said in front of television cameras in the courthouse hallway that his lawyers would rest without his testimony. The defense would offer only one significant witness, Robert J. Costello, a pugnacious lawyer whose sole task was to attack the credibility of the prosecution’s star witness, Michael D. Cohen.

“We’ll be resting pretty quickly, resting meaning ‘resting the case,’” said Mr. Trump. “I won’t be resting. I don’t rest.” The former president, who spent much of the trial with his eyes closed, added: “I’d like to rest sometimes, but I don’t get to rest.”

Prosecutors accused Mr. Trump of covering up sex scandals to pave his way to the presidency. He faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records stemming from an effort to suppress one of those scandals through a hush-money payment to a porn star, Stormy Daniels.

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