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Trump’s defense attorney attacks key witness as ‘MVP of liars’ as hush-money trial nears end


Defense lawyers in Donald Trump’s hush money trial made their final pitch to the jury on Tuesday, calling for acquittal and insisting the first ever criminal prosecution of a former US president was based on “lies.”

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Less than six months before American voters choose whether to return Trump to the White House, the stakes riding on the verdict are hard to overstate—for the 77-year-old personally, but also for the country.

Trump is accused of falsifying business records to reimburse his former lawyer Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, when her account of a 2006 sexual encounter could have doomed his 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche, delivering his closing argument, told the jury that the trial “isn’t a referendum on your views of president Trump” or “who you plan on voting for in 2024.”

Prosecutors had failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, Blanche said, and the only outcome should be a “very quick and easy not guilty verdict.”

“President Trump is innocent,” he said.

FRANCE 24’s Jessica Le Masurier reports from New York.

Blanche spent much of his summation attacking Cohen, the prosecution’s star witness, who has spent time in prison for tax evasion and other crimes, calling him the “MVP of liars” consumed by “outright hatred for Trump.”

“He’s literally the greatest liar of all time,” he said. “He told you a number of things on that witness stand that were lies, pure and simple.

“You cannot convict president Trump of any crime beyond a reasonable doubt on the word of Michael Cohen.”

Blanche said Trump was “busy running the country” when the reimbursements were made to Cohen and he did not closely inspect all the invoices that came across his desk.

“There was no intent to defraud and beyond that there was no conspiracy to influence the 2016 election by president Trump,” Blanche said. “He did not commit any crimes.”

Graphic testimony

Trump had a grave look on his face as his lawyer spoke, his head titled to the side studying the jurors. He raised his left hand in a fist as he left the courtroom for lunch but did not address the assembled media.

Speaking to reporters earlier before entering the Manhattan courtroom, Trump said “this is a very dangerous day for America.”

“We have a rigged court case that should have never been brought,” he said as three of his five children—Don Jr, Eric and Tiffany—stood behind him.

Prosecutors will get the last word. They will lay out the case that Trump falsified records to keep the hush money payment secret amid fear that the episode could sink his already rocky outsider’s bid to defeat Hillary Clinton.

The 12 jurors—whose identities have been kept secret for their protection—will start deliberations as early as Wednesday.

Polls show Trump neck and neck against President Joe Biden in the White House race and the verdict will inject new tension into an already bitter contest.

Speaking on behalf of the Biden campaign outside court, actor Robert De Niro berated Trump as a “clown” and “grubby real estate developer” intent on destroying the country.

Trump is the first former or sitting president under criminal indictment, with charges ranging from the relatively minor hush money case to accusations that he took top secret documents and tried to overthrow the 2020 election.

The New York case, which featured more than 20 witnesses over five weeks and days of gripping testimony by Daniels and Cohen, is the only one likely to come to trial by election day on November 5.

If convicted, Trump faces up to four years in prison on each of 34 counts, but legal experts say that as a first-time offender he is unlikely to get jail time.

A conviction would not bar him from appearing on the ballot in November.

Unanimity required

Trump chose not to testify in his defense—a move that would have exposed him to damaging cross-examination.

Instead, he used his daily trips to court to stage televised tirades against “corrupt” Judge Juan Merchan, and to claim the trial is a Democratic ploy to keep him off the campaign trail.

A number of Republican Trump loyalists, including several vying to be his vice president, have made the trek to the courtroom to sit behind him.

To return a guilty or not guilty verdict requires the jury to be unanimous. Just one holdout means a hung jury and a mistrial, although prosecutors could seek a new trial.

In addition to the New York case, Trump has been indicted in Washington and Georgia on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

He also faces charges in Florida of hoarding huge quantities of classified documents after leaving the White House.


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