Power shifts to jury as final arguments in Trump trial conclude

As Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial entered its seventh week, the prosecution and defense made their final presentations to jurors, sending the landmark case into deliberations on Wednesday.

A defense lawyer, Todd Blanche, spent three hours Tuesday hammering Michael D. Cohen, the prosecution’s star witness, accusing him in particular of perjury. He attacked Stormy Daniels, the porn star whose account of a tryst with Mr. In 2006, Trump launched the accusations against the former president.

The prosecution responded with an even longer and more detailed summary, well into the evening. A prosecutor, Joshua Steinglass, walked jurors through a wealth of evidence they presented and obtained, including testimony, emails, text messages and recordings.

Mr. Trump, 77, is accused of falsifying 34 business records to hide Mr. Cohen’s repayment of a secret $130,000 payment he made to Ms. Daniels. Mr. Trump has denied the accusations and the sexual relationship.

Once deliberations begin Wednesday, no one knows how long they will take. If convicted, Mr. Trump – the presumptive Republican presidential nominee – could face prison or probation.

Here are five takeaways from Mr. Trump’s closing arguments and the 21st day of trial.

“Michael Cohen is a liar” was a refrain. This may be the defense’s best bet.

“The human embodiment of reasonable doubt.”

“An MVP of liars”

“The greatest liar of all time.”

Those were words Mr. Blanche used to describe Mr. Cohen, saying that Mr. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer had “an issue to sort out” after being passed over for a White House job. and pleading guilty to federal charges related to the secret payment.

Mr. Blanche’s calculation was simple: Mr. Cohen had linked Mr. Trump to paying Ms. Daniels, saying the former president had asked him to “just do it.”

“What Mr. Trump knew in 2016 is only known from one source,” he said. “And it’s Michael Cohen.”

If the juniors don’t believe Mr. Cohen, they may have trouble finding Mr. Trump guilty.

The defense presented the payment as a daily transaction.

Mr. Blanche sought to portray the conduct in this case as essentially routine and not a crime, including the use of a nondisclosure agreement to silence Ms. Daniels.

Mr. Trump’s defense team focused its attacks on Michael D. Cohen, finding several ways to call him a liar.Credit…Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Mr Blanche also suggested there was no hard evidence of any untoward attempt to influence the election.

“It doesn’t matter if there was a conspiracy to try to win an election,” Mr. Blanche said. “Every campaign in this country is a conspiracy,” he added, to elect a candidate.

Indeed, he suggested that Mr. Trump was the victim of behavior amounting to extortion, including from Ms. Daniels. He said the award “worked out very well for Ms. Daniels, financially speaking.”

Stagecraft made an impact.

Mr. Blanche arrived in October. January 24, 2016, phone call that lasted approximately one and a half minutes. In it, Mr. Cohen said he had discussed the win with Mr. Atout. Mr. Blanche suggested Mr. Cohen had perjured himself, suggesting the call was actually to Mr. Trump’s bodyguard about pranks a teenager had played on him.

Mr. Steinglass, the prosecutor, had a dramatic response: Posing as Mr. Cohen, Mr. Steinglass faked a conversation in which he was able to both tell the bodyguard about the prank and inform Mr. Asset. It took less time than the phone call itself.

It was a brutal return to what had been a strong moment for the defense.

Mr. Steinglass directly addressed the defense’s focus on Mr. Cohen, calling him the “ultimate insider” who had “useful and reliable information.”

“They want to make this point about Michael Cohen: He’s not,” Mr. Steinglass said. “It’s about Donald Trump.”

Prosecutors presented a unified narrative.

At M. In his closing argument, Steinglass focused on telling a sweeping story about American voter fraud.

He argued that a deal Mr Trump hit the National Enquirer to buy and bury unflattering stories was a “subversion of democracy” perpetuated by a “secret arm” of the 2016 Trump campaign. He added that the fraud had deceived voters “in a coordinated manner,” preventing the American people from deciding for themselves whether they cared whether Mr. Trump slept with a porn star or not.

Todd Blanche, left, said there was no conspiracy to influence the 2016 election and that working to advance a candidate’s interests was not a crime.Credit…Pool photo by Julia Nikhinson

Her arguments, intended to rebut Mr. Blanche’s downplaying of election fraud claims, could be crucial. Prosecutors must show the business records were false to hide a plot to influence the 2016 election.

Now we wait.

The jury will receive instructions from the judge in the case, Juan M. Merchan, Wednesday morning.

Mr. Trump will remain in the courtroom, or thereabouts, as will the huge press corps descending on the Manhattan criminal court building. The jury will retire to discuss the case, perhaps sending notes to get the judge’s help or to ask to review the evidence.

Then — barring a hung jury — a verdict will come, bringing a celebration for Mr. Trump or for Manhattan prosecutors. Either way, the first criminal trial of an American president will be over.

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