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Jury to Begin Deliberations in Donald Trump’s ‘Hush Money’ Trial

Jurors will begin deliberating in New York on Wednesday to determine whether Donald Trump falsified business records to cover payments for the silence of an adult film actress about a sexual encounter.

While the national media has incessantly called it a “hush money trial,” the payment the former president made to Stephanie Clifford, who performs as Stormy Daniels, was not illegal. Instead, Trump is charged with 34 counts of disguising the payments as business expenses — reimbursement to his then-lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen — to influence the 2016 presidential campaign.

Prosecutors presented testimony that Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to buy her silence at a time  — just after the Access Hollywood tape revealed Trump lewdly telling host Billy Bush how he seduces married women because “When you’re a star, you can do anything” — when the then-presidential candidate feared the revelation would damage his 2016 campaign.

Defense attorneys assailed Cohen, calling him “the greatest liar of all time” because he pleaded guilty to eight counts, including  campaign-finance violations, tax fraud, and bank fraud, saying he lied at Trump’s direction during the 2016 campaign, the New York Times said. Cohen spent three years in prison, paid a $50,000 fine, and was disbarred.

After a weeks-long trial that included 20 prosecution witnesses and two defense witnesses — the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee himself declined to testify  — the jury heard hours of closing arguments on Tuesday. Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass reviewed the state’s case against Trump, noting that the payments became illegal when Trump reimbursed Cohen and the reimbursements were coded in his records as business expenses.

“All roads lead to the man who benefited the most, Donald Trump,” Steinglass said, adding that it was done to “hoodwink the American voter.”

Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, argued that Cohen was a liar and that the payments were standard operating procedure and not illegal. Cohen, he said, made the payment on his own volition.

“The records were not false, and there was no intent to defraud,” he said.

Judge Juan Merchan will give jury instructions Wednesday morning and send the 12 jurors off to do their work.

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