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Jurors in Trump Hush Money Trial End 1st Day of Deliberations After Asking to Rehear Testimony
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By Associated Press
Published 3 weeks ago on
May 29, 2024

Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court in his hush money trial in New York, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. (Charly Triballeau/Pool Photo via AP)

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NEW YORK — The jury in Donald Trump’s hush money trial ended its first day of deliberations without a verdict Wednesday but asked to rehear testimony from key witnesses about the alleged hush money scheme at the heart of the history-making case.

The 12-person jury was sent home around 4 p.m. after about 4 1/2 hours of deliberations. The process is to resume Thursday when jurors are expected to rehear the requested testimony and at least part of the judge’s legal instructions meant to guide them on the law.

The notes sent to the judge with the requests were the first burst of communication with the court after the panel of seven men and five women was sent to a private room just before 11:30 a.m. to begin weighing a verdict.

“It is not my responsibility to judge the evidence here. It is yours,” Judge Juan M. Merchan told jurors before dispatching them to begin deliberations, reminding them of their vow during the selection process to judge the case fairly and impartially.

Not Known How Long Deliberations Will Last

It’s unclear how long the deliberations will last. A guilty verdict would deliver a stunning legal reckoning for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee as he seeks to reclaim the White House while an an acquittal would represent a major win for Trump and embolden him on the campaign trail. Since verdicts must be unanimous, it’s also possible that the case ends in a mistrial if the jury cannot reach a consensus after days of deliberations.

Trump struck a pessimistic tone after leaving the courtroom following the reading of jury instructions, repeating his assertions of a “very unfair trial” and saying: “Mother Teresa could not beat those charges, but we’ll see. We’ll see how we do.”

He remained inside the courthouse during deliberations, where he posted on his social media network complaints about the trial and quoted legal and political commentators who view the case in his favor. In one all-capital-letters post, he proclaimed that he didn’t even “know what the charges are in this rigged case,” even though he was present in the courtroom as the judge detailed them to jurors.

He did not testify in his own defense, something the judge told jurors they could not take into account.

Trump Charged With 34 Counts

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records at his company in connection with an alleged scheme to hide potentially embarrassing stories about him during his 2016 Republican presidential campaign.

The charge, a felony, arises from reimbursements paid to then-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen after he made a $130,000 hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels to silence her claims that she and Trump had sex in 2006. Trump is accused of misrepresenting Cohen’s reimbursements as legal expenses to hide that they were tied to a hush money payment.

Trump has pleaded not guilty and contends the Cohen payments were for legitimate legal services. He has also denied the alleged extramarital sexual encounter with Daniels.

To convict Trump, the jury would have to find unanimously that he created a fraudulent entry in his company’s records, or caused someone else to do so, and that he did so with the intent of committing or concealing another crime.

The crime prosecutors say Trump committed or hid is a violation of a New York election law making it illegal for two or more conspirators “to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means.”

While the jury must unanimously agree that something unlawful was done to promote Trump’s election campaign, they don’t have to be unanimous on what that unlawful thing was.

The jurors — a diverse cross section of Manhattan residents and professional backgrounds — often appeared riveted by testimony, including from Cohen and Daniels. Many took notes and watched intently as witnesses answered questions from prosecutors and Trump’s lawyers.

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