NY v Trump: Defense says prosecutors ‘did not meet the burden of proof,’ former president is ‘innocent’

Defense attorneys for former President Donald Trump told the jury Tuesday he is innocent, did not commit any crimes, and declared that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg “did not meet the burden of proof. Period.” Defense attorney Todd Blanche delivered closing arguments Tuesday after a six-week-long historic and unprecedented criminal trial of a former President of the United States. Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. Trump pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump falsified 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.NY V. TRUMP: CLOSING ARGUMENTS TO BEGIN AS MERCHAN SKIRTS DECISION ON MOTION TO DISMISS”Each of you will decide at the end of this case whether President Trump is guilty or not guilty,” Blanche said. “President Trump is innocent. He did not commit any crimes. The district attorney did not meet the burden of proof,” Blanche said. “Period.” Blanche added that the case is “simple,” and it is “not a guilty verdict.” “This case is about documents — it is a paper case,” Blanche explained. “This case is not about an encounter with Stormy Daniels 18 years ago. It is not even about a nondisclosure agreement signed eight years ago.” Blanche explained that the charges are about whether Trump “had anything” to do with payments to his ex-attorney Michael Cohen on his personal accounting ledger. “The answer? The bookings were accurate and there was no intent to defraud and there was no conspiracy to influence the 2016 election,” Blanche said. “The proof doesn’t add up.” Blanche told the jury that they cannot convict Trump based on Cohen’s testimony, recalling that Trump’s ex-attorney “took the stand and then lied.” “The records are not false and there was no intent to defraud,” he said. Blanche explained that not one single invoice was sent to Trump directly, and explained that Cohen billed Trump “for services rendered.” Blanche reminded the jury that Cohen did render services as Trump’s personal attorney in 2017.Blanche explained that even if the amount of work was minimal, there was a retainer agreement, which he explained is “how retainer agreements work.”  Blanche said Cohen was “on call for President Trump.”Blanche also explained that checks to Cohen were not signed by Trump. “You can’t convict President Trump,” Blanche said. “Because sometimes President Trump looked at the invoices…that is a stretch and that is reasonable doubt.”Blanche said Cohen asked the jury to “ignore” documents and believe he was willing to work for free. “Do you even believe that for a second?” Blanche asked. Cohen 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.Blanche said that the idea Trump would agree to pay Cohen $420,000 when he only owed him $130,000 is “absurd.” Blanche said there is no proof to “grossing it up” and no evidence of a tax treatment. Blanche went on to discuss that the prosecution has to prove that Trump “caused” these entries with the purpose and intent to defraud, but asked the jury: “Where is the intent to defraud?” NY V. TRUMP: HOUSE GOP LAWMAKER URGES MERCHAN TO DISMISS CASE OVER ‘FATAL FLAWS,’ REFER TO FECBlanche says there is a tax form — a 1099 — to reflect the payments from a Trump personal account to Cohen.  “There is nothing false or misleading about 1099,” he said. “If there was a deep-rooted intent to defraud, why was it reported to IRS as exactly what it was?” As for the alleged “catch and kill” scheme with the National Enquirer, Blanche again maintained that the arrangements were “perfectly legal,” and an arrangement American Media Inc., the company that owns the publication, had been practicing for decades.  “There is nothing criminal about Trump wanting positive news stories. But the idea that positive stories in National Enquirer could influence 2016 election is ‘preposterous,'” Blanche said. EX-TOP BIDEN DOJ OFFICIAL NOW PROSECUTING TRUMP WAS ONCE PAID BY DNC FOR ‘POLITICAL CONSULTING’But Blanche did say David Pecker, the AMI CEO, admitted that he had “never heard” the term “catch and kill.” “That’s meaningful,” Blanche said. As for Cohen, Blanche said that “he is the human embodiment of reasonable doubt.” “He lied to you repeatedly…he is biased and motivated,” Blanche said, adding that the jury should want a witness to tell the truth. “Michael Cohen is the GLOAT,” Blanche said. “He is the greatest liar of all time…his words cannot be trusted…all those lies put them to the side for just a moment, that is enough to walk away.”  Blanche reminded that Cohen lied to both Houses of Congress, federal judges, state judges and family.  “You cannot send someone to prison based upon the words of Michael Cohen,” Blanche said, adding that a verdict needs to be reached based on evidence from documents and witnesses. “If you do that, this is a very quick and easy not guilty verdict.” 
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