Trump Defense Wraps Closing Arguments In NY Case

 

Donald Trump’s lead defense attorney Todd Blanche went first in Tuesday’s closing remarks in the election interference case brought by New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Hinging largely on the testimony of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, a convicted felon, Blanche took aim at Cohen’s dubious credibility. 

“Michael Cohen is the GLOAT. He’s literally the greatest liar of all time,” Blanche told jurors. 

As the key witness of Trump’s alleged participation in a coverup behind the $130,000 hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, prosecutors called Cohen to the stand to testify that his former client was aware of the dealings with the major players in the elaborate ordeal — and that the purpose was to influence the 2016 election by suppressing a story that might harm Trump’s presidential campaign. 

Blanche argued that the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump had knowledge of Cohen’s interactions with David Pecker, publisher of the National Enquirer and chief executive of its parent company, American Media Inc., or with Kieth Davidson, the lawyer who negotiated the deals for Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, during the campaign. 

“The evidence should leave you wanting more. You should want and expect more than than the testimony of Michael Cohen… You should demand more than the testimony of Keith Davidson, an attorney who really was just trying to extort money from Trump,” Blanche said in his statement to the jury.

Blanche continued: “This case is about documents. It’s a paper case. This case is not about an encounter with Stormy Daniels 18 years ago,” implying that Alvin Bragg’s office opened this prosecution to search for a crime. 

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass has begun his closing remarks, which are expected to go on into the evening. Once the prosecution concludes, Judge Juan Merchan will give instructions to the jury before they begin deliberations, which may not begin until Wednesday morning.

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  1. Drew in Texas Coolidge
    Drew in Texas
    @Dbroussa

    Getting in my prediction now. 

    Trump is convicted after less than 4 hours of deliberation by the jury. 

    • #1
  2. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    If permissable, I think the jury will ask for additional clarification and direction from the judge.  I think they will not want to take responsibility for the verdict.  

    • #2
  3. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    My lawyer brain wants to read the judge’s instructions to the jury about what he thinks the law is. There has throughout the trial been a lot of unclarity about what exactly are the elements of the crime that the prosecution is supposed to have proven. I assume those jury instructions have to be printed somewhere, and I would think should already exist, so that the attorneys can give closing arguments that make sense to the jury in light of what the jury is supposed to deliberate. But so far I have not been able to find them. 

    [From the fact that the trial continued notwithstanding the prosecution’s refusal to specify elements I would have thought would be essential to the alleged crime, together with reports I have read from activity in the courtroom, the judge has bought from the prosecution a lot of questionable interpretations of the law, but I’d like to see what the judge actually says before propagating conjecture. ]

    • #3
  4. Terry Mott Member
    Terry Mott
    @TerryMott

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    If permissable, I think the jury will ask for additional clarification and direction from the judge. I think they will not want to take responsibility for the verdict.

    If it’s like two of the juries I sat on, the judge will refuse any additional clarification.

    • #4
  5. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Terry Mott (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    If permissable, I think the jury will ask for additional clarification and direction from the judge. I think they will not want to take responsibility for the verdict.

    If it’s like two of the juries I sat on, the judge will refuse any additional clarification.

    In the case I was on, the deliberations turned on additional info, albeit basic information.  We got a detailed explanation of the meaning of reasonable doubt.

    • #5
  6. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Terry Mott (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    If permissable, I think the jury will ask for additional clarification and direction from the judge. I think they will not want to take responsibility for the verdict.

    If it’s like two of the juries I sat on, the judge will refuse any additional clarification.

    In the case I was on, the deliberations turned on additional info, albeit basic information. We got a detailed explanation of the meaning of reasonable doubt.

    In my jurisdiction, there is a pattern jury instruction on reasonable doubt, and if a jury asks about it during deliberations, they are generally told to re-read the jury instruction. Same with most other jury questions — most judges are very reluctant to add anything once the case has gone to the jury.

    • #6
  7. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Fritz (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Terry Mott (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    If permissable, I think the jury will ask for additional clarification and direction from the judge. I think they will not want to take responsibility for the verdict.

    If it’s like two of the juries I sat on, the judge will refuse any additional clarification.

    In the case I was on, the deliberations turned on additional info, albeit basic information. We got a detailed explanation of the meaning of reasonable doubt.

    In my jurisdiction, there is a pattern jury instruction on reasonable doubt, and if a jury asks about it during deliberations, they are generally told to re-read the jury instruction. Same with most other jury questions — most judges are very reluctant to add anything once the case has gone to the jury.

    We weren’t allowed to read.  We couldn’t take notes, we couldn’t read any transcript.  If we couldn’t remember, we asked a question, and went back into the court for an answer.

    That was in Manhattan, BTW.  100 Center St., just like Trump.

    • #7
  8. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Fritz (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Terry Mott (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    If permissable, I think the jury will ask for additional clarification and direction from the judge. I think they will not want to take responsibility for the verdict.

    If it’s like two of the juries I sat on, the judge will refuse any additional clarification.

    In the case I was on, the deliberations turned on additional info, albeit basic information. We got a detailed explanation of the meaning of reasonable doubt.

    In my jurisdiction, there is a pattern jury instruction on reasonable doubt, and if a jury asks about it during deliberations, they are generally told to re-read the jury instruction. Same with most other jury questions — most judges are very reluctant to add anything once the case has gone to the jury.

    We weren’t allowed to read. We couldn’t take notes, we couldn’t read any transcript. If we couldn’t remember, we asked a question, and went back into the court for an answer.

    That was in Manhattan, BTW. 100 Center St., just like Trump.

    Here, the jury instructions and any physical exhibits that were formally admitted into evidence (not just illustrative aids) go into the jury room during deliberations. In an recent misdemeanor case, a family member was on the jury and reported afterwards that while they were allowed to take notes individually , they had to leave them in the jury room overnight and could not take them home after delivering a verdict.

    • #8
  9. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    I still don’t understand how this trial went forward without ever defining the predicate crime…

    Isnt this all just a violation of the 6th Amendment?

    • #9
  10. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    I think having the President come out and say he is going to speak on it tells us all we need to know.

    On big political set up. 

    And I fully expect Never Trumpers to justify it.

    • #10
  11. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    I still don’t understand how this trial went forward without ever defining the predicate crime…

    Isnt this all just a violation of the 6th Amendment?

    This is why I want to read the jury instructions.

    The prosecutor has argued (and supposedly the judge agreed) that it does not matter what the predicate crime is, that the prosecution does not need to prove a specific predicate crime, and that the jurors need not even agree among themselves what the predicate crime is, as long as each of them concludes there is some predicate crime out there and that the expense misclassification was done to hide that predicate crime.

    I have lots of problems with that view, especially since jurors may be fabricating a “predicate crime” out of things that are not actually crimes. But, that is what I understand the prosecution is arguing. And hence my interest in what the judge actually writes in the jury instructions. 

    • #11
  12. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    Some people take comfort from the fact that there are two lawyers on the jury.  The lawyers would recognize the judicial malpractice going on, as well as the weakness of Bragg’s case.  They would influence the other jurors toward recognizing the kangaroo court nature of the proceeding, even if they aren’t Trump supporters.

    That is if they’re on the level.

    Here’s where I put on my tin-foil hat.

    Where did those lawyers come from?  Why did the prosecution let them serve?  Are they plants?

    • #12
  13. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Fritz (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Terry Mott (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    If permissable, I think the jury will ask for additional clarification and direction from the judge. I think they will not want to take responsibility for the verdict.

    If it’s like two of the juries I sat on, the judge will refuse any additional clarification.

    In the case I was on, the deliberations turned on additional info, albeit basic information. We got a detailed explanation of the meaning of reasonable doubt.

    In my jurisdiction, there is a pattern jury instruction on reasonable doubt, and if a jury asks about it during deliberations, they are generally told to re-read the jury instruction. Same with most other jury questions — most judges are very reluctant to add anything once the case has gone to the jury.

    We weren’t allowed to read. We couldn’t take notes, we couldn’t read any transcript. If we couldn’t remember, we asked a question, and went back into the court for an answer.

    That was in Manhattan, BTW. 100 Center St., just like Trump.

    That seems so unjust–to not allow the jury to take notes or look at a transcript.

    What on earth would the intention be to control the jury in this way, I wonder.

    • #13
  14. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    I still don’t understand how this trial went forward without ever defining the predicate crime…

    Isnt this all just a violation of the 6th Amendment?

    This is why I want to read the jury instructions.

    The prosecutor has argued (and supposedly the judge agreed) that it does not matter what the predicate crime is, that the prosecution does not need to prove a specific predicate crime, and that the jurors need not even agree among themselves what the predicate crime is, as long as each of them concludes there is some predicate crime out there and that the expense misclassification was done to hide that predicate crime.

    I have lots of problems with that view, especially since jurors may be fabricating a “predicate crime” out of things that are not actually crimes. But, that is what I understand the prosecution is arguing. And hence my interest in what the judge actually writes in the jury instructions.

    Well, you need a predicate crime for the charges to stick… If there is no predicate crime you can’t elevate these misdemeanors into a felony to have a trial. The Statute of Limitations had long run out on the Misdemeanor crimes…

    No predicate crime no charges no trial.

    Even the basic facts of the false business records charges are – beyond flimsy.

    Megyn Kelly runs it down in her interviews:

    • #14
  15. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    Well, you need a predicate crime for the charges to stick… If there is no predicate crime you can’t elevate these misdemeanors into a felony to have a trial. The Statute of Limitations had long run out on the Misdemeanor crimes…

    I have read at least one analysis that claims the statute of limitations has not run on the misdemeanor, since Mr. Trump has been outside of New York state for most of the past several years. [There are provisions in the law that suspend the statute of limitations in certain instances, mostly to prevent a suspect who has fled the jurisdiction and made himself invisible from escaping justice.] But since the trial seemed to include no evidence on Mr. Trump’s location in recent years, I assume the prosecution has abandoned that avenue.

    For the felonies, he prosecution says that they don’t have to prove any particular predicate crime. They need only produce evidence from which the jurors can piece together that one or more predicate crimes happened. Makes little sense to me, but that’s the argument. This lack of a need to specify a particular predicate crime may explain the prosecution’s constant use of “conspiracy” and “steal the election” and “hush money” – to create an atmosphere of sleaze from which the jurors are to assume there must be a crime somewhere in there. 

    • #15
  16. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    For the felonies, he prosecution says that they don’t have to prove any particular predicate crime. They need only produce evidence from which the jurors can piece together that one or more predicate crimes happened. Makes little sense to me, but that’s the argument. This lack of a need to specify a particular predicate crime may explain the prosecution’s constant use of “conspiracy” and “steal the election” and “hush money” – to create an atmosphere of sleaze from which the jurors are to assume there must be a crime somewhere in there. 

    He has to specify the crime. The prosecution can’t leave it the jury’s imagination about what crime they’re convicting on. Nor can the accused mount an effective defense against the imagination of the jury. It therefore must be a violation of the 6th amendment to indict someone without specifying what your indicting them of. The underlying crime must be specified as an element of the crime.

    Would you pay for a photo radar ticket, that included no photo, no time and no place of the infraction?

    • #16
  17. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Fritz (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Terry Mott (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    If permissable, I think the jury will ask for additional clarification and direction from the judge. I think they will not want to take responsibility for the verdict.

    If it’s like two of the juries I sat on, the judge will refuse any additional clarification.

    In the case I was on, the deliberations turned on additional info, albeit basic information. We got a detailed explanation of the meaning of reasonable doubt.

    In my jurisdiction, there is a pattern jury instruction on reasonable doubt, and if a jury asks about it during deliberations, they are generally told to re-read the jury instruction. Same with most other jury questions — most judges are very reluctant to add anything once the case has gone to the jury.

    We weren’t allowed to read. We couldn’t take notes, we couldn’t read any transcript. If we couldn’t remember, we asked a question, and went back into the court for an answer.

    That was in Manhattan, BTW. 100 Center St., just like Trump.

    That seems so unjust–to not allow the jury to take notes or look at a transcript.

    What on earth would the intention be to control the jury in this way, I wonder.

    They want you to rely on the official record rather than your own.  But they make it so onerous to get answers that you just say the hell with it.  (About 4 hours for an answer to the simplest of questions.)

    • #17
  18. Drew in Texas Coolidge
    Drew in Texas
    @Dbroussa

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    For the felonies, he prosecution says that they don’t have to prove any particular predicate crime. They need only produce evidence from which the jurors can piece together that one or more predicate crimes happened. Makes little sense to me, but that’s the argument. This lack of a need to specify a particular predicate crime may explain the prosecution’s constant use of “conspiracy” and “steal the election” and “hush money” – to create an atmosphere of sleaze from which the jurors are to assume there must be a crime somewhere in there.

    He has to specify the crime. The prosecution can’t leave it the jury’s imagination about what crime they’re convicting on. Nor can the accused mount an effective defense against the imagination of the jury. It therefore must be a violation of the 6th amendment to indict someone without specifying what your indicting them of. The underlying crime must be specified as an element of the crime.

    Would you pay for a photo radar ticket, that included no photo, no time and no place of the infraction?

    While what you say makes logical sense to most people, that is not what the Judge has ruled in this case.  He has allowed the prosecution not to define the crime that the bookkeeping was supposedly altered to hide corruptly.  Further during the closing arguments, the prosecution was allowed to state (objections overruled until the defense stopped objecting) that the NDA payment was a crime as a fact multiple times.

    • #18
  19. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    I saw someone I think yesterday, say that the best sources for in-court details are British reporters, because they know shorthand and take meticulous notes.  So it’s likely that the actual jury instructions will be known – at least, if they’re given publicly while the reporters etc are present- and revealed rather shortly thereafter.

    • #19
  20. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Drew in Texas (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    For the felonies, he prosecution says that they don’t have to prove any particular predicate crime. They need only produce evidence from which the jurors can piece together that one or more predicate crimes happened. Makes little sense to me, but that’s the argument. This lack of a need to specify a particular predicate crime may explain the prosecution’s constant use of “conspiracy” and “steal the election” and “hush money” – to create an atmosphere of sleaze from which the jurors are to assume there must be a crime somewhere in there.

    He has to specify the crime. The prosecution can’t leave it the jury’s imagination about what crime they’re convicting on. Nor can the accused mount an effective defense against the imagination of the jury. It therefore must be a violation of the 6th amendment to indict someone without specifying what your indicting them of. The underlying crime must be specified as an element of the crime.

    Would you pay for a photo radar ticket, that included no photo, no time and no place of the infraction?

    While what you say makes logical sense to most people, that is not what the Judge has ruled in this case. He has allowed the prosecution not to define the crime that the bookkeeping was supposedly altered to hide corruptly. Further during the closing arguments, the prosecution was allowed to state (objections overruled until the defense stopped objecting) that the NDA payment was a crime as a fact multiple times.

    It may have been a mistake for them to stop objecting.

    • #20
  21. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    I finally got what purports to be the jury instructions Judge Merchan gave in the Trump business records case. I got to it from a link at the bottom of an article at CNN, which link does direct to an official New York courts website, so I have high confidence in its veracity.

    https://www.cnn.com/2024/05/29/politics/read-the-jury-instructions-from-judge-juan-merchan-in-the-trump-hush-money-trial/index.html

    The New York statute Mr. Trump is accused of violating, as summarized by the judge:

    Under the law, a person is guilty of falsifying business records in the first degree when, with intent to defraud that includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof, that person:

    Makes or causes a false entry in the business records of an enterprise.

     

    The judge explains the primary charge:

    Under our law, although the People [the prosecution] must prove an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof, they need not prove that the other crime was in fact committed, aided, or concealed.

     

    The judge describes the predicate “another crime” as another New York statute that he summarizes as:

    Any two or more persons who conspire to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means and which conspiracy is acted upon by one or more of the parties thereto, shall be guilty of conspiracy to promote or prevent an election.

     

    The judge further explains:

    Although you [the jury] must conclude unanimously that the defendant conspired to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means, you need not be unanimous as to what those unlawful means were.

     

    The judge proceeds to summarize the three “theories” the prosecution proposed for the “unlawful means”:

    1. A violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act;
    2. Falsification of other business records;
    3. Violation of tax laws

     

    My lawyer nerd has issues with the judge’s constructions.

    The judge’s instructions leave it entirely up to each individual juror to determine what the “unlawful means” required to violate the predicate statute is. The judge summarizes three “theories” presented by the prosecution, but does not explicitly require the jurors to choose from among only those three. Could a juror find yet another “unlawful means” within the evidence presented at trial?

    Without the “unlawful means” for the conspiracy, there is no predicate crime, and therefore no “intent to commit” the predicate crime that is an essential element of the primary crime. Therefore, the “unlawful means” is an essential element of the primary crime. I cannot fathom how it is possible to convict someone of a crime without jury agreement on the essential elements of the crime.

    A secondary issue is that the judge is essentially asking the jury to piece together the potential crime as part of determining whether the defendant is guilty of that crime. Figuring out what the defendant is accused of is not the jury’s job. That is the prosecutor’s job.

     

    • #21
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