Closing arguments begin in Donald Trump’s criminal hush-money trial | Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s hush-money trial enters its final stages on Tuesday as closing arguments begin in court.

For weeks, testimony has gripped America and the world amid the prospect that the former US president could be found guilty of the criminal charges. Trump, who is almost certain to secure the Republican presidential nomination, is charged with falsifying business records related to paying the adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 for her silence about an alleged sexual liaison.

Prosecutors argue that the payments amount to election interference as Trump was running in the 2016 race for the White House at the time and seeking to cover up a potentially damaging scandal.

But as details of the case and Trump’s liaison with Daniels have been brought before a Manhattan jury, they have had seemingly little impact on the 2024 race – where Trump still often narrowly leads Joe Biden in head-to-head polls and is performing strongly in the swings states that are crucial to victory.

Trump denies all the charges.

The trial has played out in remarkable scenes where Trump has been in court and largely kept off the campaign trial, except at weekends and some events in and around New York City. Despite admonishments from the court, he has continued to rail against his prosecutors, and Judge Juan Merchan, on social media, labelling the trial as a “witch hunt”.

Central to the case is the testimony of Trump’s former lawyer and once-feared fixer Michael Cohen. Cohen gave vital evidence for the role that Trump played in the alleged hush-money scheme, but was also brutally grilled by Trump’s lawyers for his previous history of lying and his evident dislike of his former boss and desire to see him behind bars.

What weight the jury places on the reliability of Cohen’s testimony is likely to decide the case one way or the other. If found guilty, Trump could face the prospect of jail, though that is mostly seen as unlikely. Any guilty verdict would also almost certainly trigger a lengthy series of appeals.

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Trump also faces three other criminal trials: one for trying to sway the 2020 election in Georgia, another for his conduct around the January 6 attack on the Capitol and a third one related to his treatment of sensitive documents after he left the White House. However, all three have been seriously delayed and none are seen as likely to conclude – or even start – before November’s presidential election.

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