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Home stretch for the Trump trial

Photo: Seth Wenig Associated Press Former Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen leaving his apartment building to go to the Manhattan courthouse in New York on May 20, 2024.

Gregory Walton – Agence France-Presse and Andréa Bambino – Agence France-Presse in New York

Published yesterday at 1:27 p.m. Updated yesterday at 6:44 p.m.

  • United States

Donald Trump's trial for hidden payments to a porn star is entering its home stretch, with the judge indicating Monday that final arguments would begin next week before a historic verdict, with considerable political repercussions.

One question remains: Will the former US president testify? Experts say it is likely that the Republican presidential nominee of November gives up, fearing merciless cross-examination from the prosecution.

Dressed in a navy blue jacket and tie, the tempestuous billionaire, who assured at the start of the trial that he intended to testify, did not answer a journalist's question on the subject when he arrived Monday at the court.

Judge Juan Merchan declared at the outset when the hearing resumed that his goal was to finish examining the case “this week.” and not Tuesday as had initially hoped, “so that we start next week” with the final arguments.

After the final interventions of the prosecution and the defense, Juan Merchan will solemnly give his instructions to the 12 jurors. Then he will entrust them with the heavy task of deciding whether Donald Trump was guilty, beyond all reasonable doubt, of 34 accounting falsifications to hide a payment to the porn actress, Stormy Daniels, avoiding a possible scandal. sexual assault at the very end of the 2016 presidential campaign. For him to be declared guilty, unanimity is required.

« You have stolen ? »

Immediately, the debates resumed Monday morning with new attacks from the defense against the number one accuser, the former lawyer staff and confidant of Donald Trump, Michael Cohen.

This key witness directly incriminated his former boss, claiming that he had approved the payment of $130,000 to Stormy Daniels to buy her silence about a sexual relationship she claims to have had in 2006 with Donald Trump, when he was already married to his current wife, Melania. Donald Trump denies this relationship.

The former lawyer himself took charge of the payment a few days before the vote in 2016 and he claimed that Donald Trump had validated his reimbursement in 2017, expenses disguised according to the accusation as “legal expenses” in the accounts of his Trump Organization group of companies, hence the prosecution for accounting falsifications.

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But the defense did everything possible to discredit this actor, described by other witnesses as an unscrupulous character and condemned by the courts for lying before the American Congress in the investigation into the involvement of Russia in the 2016 presidential election.

After accusing him last week of lying, supported by telephone data, during his testimony before the jurors, the Donald Trump's lawyer, Todd Blanche, is back on the attack.

Michael Cohen had to admit that beyond the reimbursements received, he had received other sums from the Trump Organization intended for a client, but that he had kept $30,000. “You stole from the Trump Organization ?,” Todd Blanche concluded. “Yes,” replied Michael Cohen.

$4.4 million

The lawyer also tried to push the witness about his first version of the case. When the Wall Street Journal revealed, in January 2018, the payments to Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen first publicly claimed that he had taken the initiative without talking to Donald Trump. A version that he also held in private, with friends and members of his family, he conceded.

He ended up turning around when justice caught up with him. After pleading guilty to several crimes, tax fraud, bank fraud, lying to Congress and violating campaign finance laws, Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and spent thirteen months behind bars.

Becoming a sworn enemy of Donald Trump, Michael Cohen has made him the subject of two books and a long series of podcasts, which have earned him $4.4 million since 2020 , he also admitted, just before the end of the defense's cross-examination, which lasted three days.

If Trump were to be found guilty , it would be up to the judge to subsequently set the sentence, which could range from suspended sentence with probation to a prison sentence in the most serious case.

A criminal conviction would in any case constitute a historic first for a former president of the United States and a political earthquake in the middle of the presidential campaign.

The stakes are all the more More important than this case will probably be the only one tried before the November 5 presidential election, among the four in which Donald Trump is charged, including the sprawling case before the federal courts in Washington on his allegedly illegal attempts to overturn the results of the presidential election of 2020.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116