NY v. Trump: Defense rests without calling former president to testify; motion to dismiss pending

Defense attorneys in New York v. Trump rested their case Tuesday morning without calling former President Trump to the stand to testify. The prosecution rested its case Monday, and Trump defense attorneys called two witnesses — paralegal Daniel Sitko and a former legal adviser to Michael Cohen, Robert Costello — before resting its case. Judge Juan Merchan dismissed the jury until after Memorial Day. The next day, Tuesday, May 28, the jury will hear closing arguments from Trump defense attorneys and New York prosecutors. NY V TRUMP: JUDGE TO CONSIDER DEFENSE MOTION TO DISMISS AFTER PROSECUTION RESTS CASEThe jury is expected to deliberate starting either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday after Memorial Day. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged former President Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.Trump pleaded not guilty to all counts.Prosecutors needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump falsified those records to conceal a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic performer, in the lead-up to the 2016 election to silence her about an alleged affair with Trump in 2006.The former president has maintained his innocence.Trump defense attorneys made a second attempt to dismiss the case Monday, and said no evidence had been presented by the prosecution to connect the former president to any falsification of business records. Defense attorneys motioned for dismissal after Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and the prosecution’s “star witness,” finished his testimony. Cohen testified that he personally made the $130,000 payment to Daniels using a home equity line of credit in an effort to conceal the payment from his wife. Cohen said he did this because Trump told him to “handle it” and prevent a negative story from coming out ahead of the election.But Trump’s defense attorneys maintained that the president never directed Cohen to do so.TRUMP SLAMS NY COURT SYSTEM, BOASTS HE’S GOING ‘TO WIN’ EMPIRE STATECohen testified that he was “reimbursed $420,000” for the $130,000 he paid to Daniels. Cohen said former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg suggested he “gross up” the payments and that Trump knew the details of the reimbursement.The prosecution presented Cohen with 11 checks totaling $420,000. Cohen confirmed that they were all received and deposited. The checks had a description of a “retainer,” which Cohen said was false.But Trump defense attorney Todd Blanche asked for an immediate order of dismissal, saying there is “no evidence” that the filings or business records at the center of the case were false, that there are “absolutely no false business filings.” Blanche said there is no dispute that Cohen acted as a personal attorney for Trump in 2017 and that there is no evidence or intent by Trump to mislead, hide or falsify business records.Blanche said there would be records of intent to defraud, if they existed, and that there were no other crimes being covered up. He said there was no evidence of anyone thinking of a campaign finance charge when the payment was made to Stormy Daniels or when Cohen and then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg developed the repayment plan.Blanche said Trump paid Cohen a $35,000 “monthly retainer,” which is what the records state, and said there is no evidence from any witness to prove any criminal intent.NY V TRUMP: MICHAEL COHEN ADMITS TO STEALING TENS OF THOUSANDS FROM FORMER PRESIDENT’S BUSINESSReflecting on the prosecution’s case, Blanche pointed to the alleged “catch and kill” strategy used to prevent a “demonstrably false” story a Trump Tower doorman had about Trump from being published.”How on Earth is keeping a false story from voters criminal?” Blanche asked, adding it was “not a catch and kill and certainly not a criminal catch and kill.””There is no way the court should let this case go to the jury with Mr. Cohen’s testimony,” Blanche said, adding that Cohen has lied under oath in the past and during the current criminal trial in Merchan’s courtroom. Merchan asked Blanche if he should “find Mr. Cohen not credible by a matter of law,” to which Blanche said “yes.”COHEN’S BOMBSHELL ADMISSION COULD LEAD TO HUNG JURY, IF NOT ACQUITTAL: EXPERT”So, you want me to take it out of the jury’s hands?” Merchan asked, with Blanche responding that Cohen’s entire testimony should not be considered by the jury. Merchan told Blanche that if Cohen’s “lies” were “irrefutable,” then he would be able to convince the jury of that.The prosecution then argued that under the New York state falsifying business records statute, anyone “causing” the falsified records can be punished.”As a matter of law, it is sufficient, more than sufficient, that the defendant set in motion the sequence of events leading to the falsification of business records,” prosecutor Matthew Colangelo argued.Merchan said he would reserve a ruling on whether to dismiss the case before the jury can deliberate.Trump, on Tuesday, spoke to reporters outside the courtroom, saying his defense team has already essentially “won” the case. Trump said Merchan should side “decisively” against Bragg. “Any other judge would have thrown this case out,” Trump said.
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