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Doomsday for Donald Trump's career? Jury in hush money trial to hear closing arguments before deliberations

Prosecutors and defence lawyers in Donald Trump's hush money trial are set to deliver closing arguments to the jury Tuesday, each side looking to score final points with the panel before it starts deliberating the fate of the first former American president to be charged with felony crimes.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 New York Updated on: May 28, 2024 20:16 IST
Donald Trump's hush money trial
Image Source : AP Former US President Donald Trump

New York prosecutors and Donald Trump's lawyers make their closing arguments at his hush money trial on Tuesday in a final bid to influence the 12 jurors who decide whether he will become the first US President past or present convicted of a crime. After six weeks of trial, prosecutors will argue on Tuesday that Trump, 77, illegally falsified business documents to cover up evidence of a payment that bought the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

Trump's defence team will try to convince jurors he is not guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt," the standard required by US law. Trump denies Daniels' allegation of a sexual encounter in 2006 when he was married to his current wife Melania. Trump's legal team called two witnesses of their own, and the former president himself did not testify.

VIDEO: Trump returns to court 

Instead, they have tried to raise doubts about the credibility of prosecution witnesses, most notably Michael Cohen, who testified that as Trump's fixer, he handled the payment to Daniels and that Trump approved the cover-up.

During cross-examination, Trump's lawyers got Cohen to discuss his felony convictions and imprisonment, his history of lying and his lingering animosity for his former boss. Cohen also admitted to stealing from Trump's company.

What will happen if Trump is found guilty?

If found guilty, Trump faces up to four years in prison, although imprisonment is unlikely for a first-time felon convicted of such a crime. A conviction will not prevent Trump from trying to take back the White House from Democratic President Joe Biden as the Republican candidate in the November 5 election, and it would not prevent him from taking office if he won. Opinion polls show the two candidates locked in a tight race.

Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, normally a misdemeanour under New York law.

Prosecutors in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office elevated those charges to felonies, saying Trump falsified those records to disguise what amounted to an illegal campaign contribution: the payment that bought Daniels' silence about the alleged 2006 sexual encounter at a time when Trump was already facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.

What does Trump say?

Trump has pleaded not guilty and denies wrongdoing. His lawyers have implied that the $1,30,000 payment for Daniels' silence was intended to spare Trump's family from embarrassment, not to protect his White House bid. Prosecutors will cite testimony to argue otherwise. Trump faces three other criminal prosecutions as well, but none is likely to go to trial before the election.

Separate cases in Washington and Georgia accuse him of illegally trying to overturn his 2020 election defeat, while another case in Florida charges him with mishandling classified information after he left office in 2021. Trump has pleaded not guilty in all of the cases and says they are an effort by Biden's Democratic allies to hobble his presidential bid.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Donald Trump's lawyers rest case in hush money trial without calling him to testify

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