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Trump won't testify in his New York hush money trial

Former President Donald Trump appears in court with attorneys Emil Bove (left) and Todd Blanche (right) for his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday in New York City.
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Former President Donald Trump appears in court with attorneys Emil Bove (left) and Todd Blanche (right) for his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday in New York City.

The defense for former President Donald Trump has rested in his New York criminal trial, marking the end of witness testimony and paving the way for jury deliberation.

Trump's defense called up two witnesses: a paralegal who verified call logs between former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and lawyer and Trump ally Robert Costello. Then they called Costello to the stand.

In testimony that carried over into Tuesday morning's session, Costello testified to conversations and emails he had with Cohen following a 2019 FBI raid on Cohen's home and office.

They were the only two witnesses brought up by the defense, following over four weeks of testimony from prosecutors.

Although Trump vowed to testify in this trial as he has did in civil trials in New York, he did not end up taking the stand.

The jury will hear closing arguments next Tuesday and could begin deliberating by Wednesday.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsified business records. Prosecutors allege that Trump knew about a settlement negotiation with adult actor Stormy Daniels to keep her allegations of an affair out of the press ahead of the 2016 election, and that Trump directed Cohen to make a settlement payment of $130,000 to her. Prosecutors argue that the falsified business records, in part labeled as "legal retainers," are a paper trail for Cohen.

Trump has long argued he was only paying his lawyer. Speaking for several minutes outside the courtroom Tuesday morning, Trump lamented his inability to campaign as much as he would like to since he has to attend the trial every day that court is in session – per New York criminal law. He has also accused the judge of being biased.

Jurors spent several days hearing testimony from Cohen, as well as from former National Enquirer publisher Pecker, who first testified to the details of deals made with Cohen and Trump to flag potentially damaging stories. And they also heard from Keith Davidson, the lawyer who negotiated the nondisclosure agreements and settlement payments for Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal.

Daniels also testified for several days. She recounted meeting Trump in 2006, having an alleged sexual encounter and negotiating with Cohen to sell her story nearly 10 years later.

Copyright 2024 NPR

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Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.
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