Trump's defense rests case in hush money trial without calling Trump as witness

Former President Donald Trump sits in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday in New York. His lawyers on Tuesday rested their case without calling him as a witness.

Former President Donald Trump sits in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday in New York. His lawyers on Tuesday rested their case without calling him as a witness. (Michael M. Santiago via AP)

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NEW YORK — Donald Trump's defense team rested its case in the criminal hush money trial on Tuesday without calling the former president to testify.

Trump's lawyers called two witnesses in his defense. Justice Juan Merchan said jurors would return next Tuesday to hear closing arguments, with deliberations likely beginning the following day.

Trump's lawyers had asked Merchan to dismiss the case before it reaches the jury, arguing that it rests on the testimony of a witness, the estranged former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, who has a well-documented history of lying.

Such dismissal motions are rarely successful, and Merchan indicated on Monday that he was inclined to let jurors assess Cohen's credibility for themselves. Prosecutors say his testimony is buttressed by other evidence.

Cohen, the prosecution's final witness, wrapped up his testimony on Monday, clearing the way for Trump's lawyers to present witnesses and their own evidence.

Lawyer Robert Costello, the second witness called by Trump's defense, testified on Monday that Cohen told him he did not have any incriminating information on Trump.

Costello's demeanor on the witness stand apparently angered Merchan on Monday, who cleared the courtroom to tell him, "Don't roll your eyes." Costello resumed testifying on Tuesday before the defense rested its case.

Trump is accused of covering up a $130,000 payment that bought the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels, who in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential election was peddling her story of a sexual encounter with Trump.

Though the hush money payment itself is not illegal, Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide his reimbursement to Cohen, who initially paid for the transaction.

Trump, 77, has pleaded not guilty and denies wrongdoing. He says he never had sex with Daniels and has cast the trial as a politically motivated attempt to hurt his effort to win back the White House as a Republican from Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 election.

Cohen testified that he spoke repeatedly with Trump about the payment to Daniels in the final stretch of the 2016 presidential campaign when Trump was facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.

Cohen said Trump worried that Daniels would hurt his appeal to women voters if she went public with her story. Trump's legal team says he made the payment to protect his family from embarrassment.

Cohen admitted on the witness stand on Monday that he had stolen money from Trump's business, saying he was angry his bonus was cut after he handled the Daniels payment.


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