Trump trial live updates: Jury requests testimony from Pecker and Michael Cohen

Trump trial live updates: Jury requests testimony from Pecker and Michael Cohen
Creativeye99/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York City, where he is facing felony charges related to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. It marks the first time in history that a former U.S. president has been tried on criminal charges.

Trump last April pleaded not guilty to a 34-count indictment charging him with falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to Daniels in order to boost his electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election.

Here’s how the news is developing:

May 29, 5:25 PM
Judge to ponder dispute over requested testimony

Prosecutor Josh Steinglass walked Judge Merchan through each of the disputed portions of the transcript regarding the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, detailing the page and line number for each disputed portion that the jury had requested be read back.

For some of the portions, defense attorney Todd Blanche expressed concern about providing too much information — not just regarding the topic of the meeting but its repercussions — while Steinglass argued that some of the testimony could create confusion for the jury.

“This issue is both confusing and difficult to correct,” Steinglass said.

Merchan said that “for the sake of time,” he would take the transcript with him after the proceedings conclude and make a decision.

Told about about another dispute, Merchan said, “I will take this with me into chambers and let you know what I think.”

May 29, 5:12 PM
Merchan returns to help sort out requested testimony

Judge Merchan returned to the bench to check on how the search for the jury’s requested readback material was coming.

“Where do we stand?” the judge asked.

Prosecutor Josh Steinglass said there were a “few outstanding issues” requiring Merchan’s intervention.

Steinglass said the parties were in agreement about three of the four requests, but disagreed over the relevant portion of the transcript regarding David’s Pecker’s testimony about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

Steinglass said the lawyers disagreed over whether the jury should hear a portion of Pecker’s testimony regarding what he relayed about the meeting to then-National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard.

“We tried to draw a line between the substance of the meeting and the execution,” Steinglass told the judge.

“I can see why Mr. Blanche has some concerns about most of this,” Merchan said after reviewing that portion of the transcript himself.

May 29, 4:59 PM
Search for readback material continues

Prosecutors Josh Steinglass and Susan Hoffinger, and defense attorneys Todd Blanche and Emil Bove continued to hash out the relevant portion of the transcript for tomorrow’s readback as requested by the jury.

After spending about half an hour in his waiting area, Donald Trump returned to the courtroom.

He entered alongside his son Don Jr. and took a seat at the defense table as the attorneys continued to pore over the material.

May 29, 4:16 PM
Judge confers with attorneys on readback material

After dismissing the jury for the day, Judge Merchan asked the lawyers not to leave the courtroom until they decide the portion for the jury’s requested readback.

“Yes, your honor,” defense attorney Todd Blanche responded.

As the lawyers met with Merchan at the bench, Trump leaned back in his seat at the defense table, with his arm resting on the top of his chair.

Blanche asked if Trump could return the his waiting area while the attorneys searched for the readback material.

Merchan said he would allow it as long as Trump remained nearby in case he is needed.

Trump slowly walked out of the courtroom, scowling as he left.

May 29, 4:09 PM
Judge says jury notes will be addressed tomorrow

With the just back in the courtroom, Judge Merchan told them the requested readback of testimony would will take at least half an hour, so announced he would dismiss the jury for the day and address both their notes when they return tomorrow.

Before dismissing the jury for the day, the judge emphasized his standard instruction about the jury not looking up information related to the trial.

“You are at a critical point in the proceedings,” Merchan said.

“See you tomorrow morning at 9:30,” the judge said before the jury exited the courtroom.

May 29, 3:59 PM
Jury asks to rehear judge’s instructions

Judge Merchan, returning to the bench, announced, “We did just receive another note.”

The judge said the jury wants to rehear the judge’s instructions.

Merchan suggested bringing them back to clarify if they want the entire instructions or just a portion.

May 29, 3:56 PM
Prosecutors said Trump Tower meeting was central to case

In his closing argument yesterday, prosecutor Josh Steinglass framed the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, for which the jury requested the transcript, as central to the case.

“That was the whole purpose of the Trump Tower meeting, to get AMI to help [Trump] win the election,” Steinglass told the jurors, claiming that “the Trump Tower conspiracy violated New York state election law.”

Defense attorney Todd Blanche, in his closing, pushed back on the significance of the meeting, saying it was AMI merely agreeing to do what it had done for decades.

“They had been doing it for President Trump since the Nineties,” Blanche said of the arrangement to catch and kill unflattering stories. “Mr. Pecker told you that AMI purchases stories all the time.

“They purchased stories about Tiger Woods, Mark Wahlberg and other people. No crime,” Blanche said.

May 29, 3:42 PM
Requested testimony centers on McDougal payment

The phone call between Trump and then-National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, which the jury requested be read back, involved an alleged discussion about Playboy model Karen McDougal, who alleged a year-long affair with Trump that Trump has denied.

“With all of the evidence and documents in this case, it’s easy to lose sight of the significance of this phone call,” prosecutor Josh Steinglass told jurors during his closing argument yesterday.

Steinglass argued that the call proved that Trump “was overtly discussing purchasing [McDougal’s] story to keep it from being published” — and that it also proved that Michael Cohen was telling the truth when he said he was acting at the direction of Trump.

“This call makes it impossible for the defense to claim that Cohen was acting on his own, that he was taking it upon himself to work with AMI to purchase the McDougal story,” Steinglass told the jurors.

May 29, 3:24 PM
Court prepares for readback of requested testimony

“I will be in the robing room — let me know when you are ready for readback,” Judge Merchan said after the jury requested a review of four pieces of testimony from Michael Cohen and David Pecker.

Merchan then left the courtroom.

A court reporter dropped a 12-inch stack of transcripts on the prosecution counsel table then handed an index to the prosecutors.

Trump attorneys Emil Bove and and Todd Blanche appeared to be searching through papers on their table, while Trump sat motionless. Prosecutors were doing the same thing.

May 29, 3:14 PM
Jury sends note with 4 requests for testimony

“Good afternoon. We have received a note,” Judge Merchan said after taking the bench.

The jury has made four requests for testimony:

– Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker’s testimony about the phone conversation with Donald Trump

– Pecker’s testimony about the decision regarding the assignment of Playboy model Karen McDougal’s life rights

– Pecker’s testimony about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting

– Michael Cohen’s testimony about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting

May 29, 3:09 PM
Parties return to the courtroom

The prosecution team has returned to the courtroom, with about seven members of the DA’s office in the gallery.

Trump has returned to the courtroom as well.

He entered alongside his lawyer Todd Blanche, with his other lawyers and staff following behind.

May 29, 1:09 PM
Trump says he doesn’t ‘even know what the charges are’

As the jury continues its deliberations, Donald Trump posted on his social media platform in all caps that “I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THE CHARGES ARE IN THIS RIGGED CASE.”

“I AM ENTITLED TO SPECIFICITY JUST LIKE ANYONE ELSE,” he wrote.

The post comes after Trump watched Judge Merchan spend over an hour instructing the jury on the law and specific charges in the case, including each of the 34 counts that the former president faces for falsifying business records in order to hide a hush money payment to boost his prospects in the 2016 election.

May 29, 12:24 PM
Trump says ‘Mother Teresa could not beat these charges’

“Mother Teresa could not beat these charges,” former President Trump told reporters as he exited the courtroom following Judge Merchan’s jury instructions.

“We’ll see how we do,” Trump said as the jury began its deliberations. “It’s a very disgraceful situation.”

Trump reiterated his grievances with the judge and case’s limited gag order, before complaining that he should be on the campaign trail.

“This is five weeks and five weeks of really, essentially, not campaigning,” Trump said.

He exited the hallway without answering any questions from reporters.

-Kelsey Walsh

May 29, 11:45 AM
Judge tells parties to stay in building during deliberations

Jurors will deliberate until 4:30 p.m. ET today, Judge Merchan said.

“You cannot leave the building and you need to be able to get here quickly” when a verdict is reached, the judge Merchan told the parties after the jury had left the courtroom.

Former President Trump got up from the defense table and spoke with several associates, then exited the courtroom with his entourage.

The staff and lawyers from the Manhattan district attorney’s office also left the courtroom.

May 29, 11:35 AM
Alternate jurors will stay through deliberations

As the 12 main jurors left the courtroom, most appeared to look away from Trump as they passed his counsel table.

The six alternate jurors remained in the courtroom after the 12 main jurors left to begin deliberations.

“We are not going to excuse you just yet,” Judge Merchan told the alternates,

He asked them to stick around through the deliberations. though they won’t participate in the deliberations themselves.

May 29, 11:29 AM
Jury begins deliberating in historic case

“That concludes my instructions on the law. Counsel please approach,” Judge Merchan said when he was done instructing the jury.

He held a sidebar with the attorneys, after which the jurors filed out of the courtroom to begin deliberations.

May 29, 11:22 AM
Merchan tells jurors be firm but considerate of other jurors

Judge Merchan emphasized that jurors each need to come to an individual decision about the verdict after hearing and understanding the view of the other jurors.

“Each of you must decide the case for yourself, but only after a fair and impartial consideration of the evidence with the other jurors,” Merchan said.

“You should discuss the evidence and consult with each other, listen to each other, give the others’ views careful consideration,” he said. “You should not surrender an honest view of the evidence simply because you want the trial to end, or because you’re outvoted.”

“Your verdict on each count you consider must … be unanimous — that is, each and every juror must agree to it,” Merchan said.

Merchan said that the jury foreperson will read the verdict for each of the charged counts. Merchan will then poll the entire jury to confirm their verdict.

May 29, 11:09 AM
Judge reviews law on falsifying business records

Judge Merchan read the jury the New York state law related to falsifying business records.

“Under our law, a person is guilty of falsifying business records in the first degree when, with intent to defraud that includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof,” Merchan read.

Few of the jurors appeared to be taking the notes at that point.

May 29, 11:03 AM
Judge runs through each count

Judge Merchan then reviewed each of the counts against Trump to explain the People’s burden of proof.

He said that in the interest of brevity, he would instruct them on Falsification of Business Records for the first count — but not the full instruction for all 34 counts, because they are identical.

Merchan methodically walked through each of the allegedly falsified documents, listing the dates, voucher numbers, and check numbers for each of the records.

The judge said he would be happy to repeat the instructions later if the jury so requests.

May 29, 10:56 AM
Judge lays out ‘unlawful means’ to be considered

Judge Merchan explained to jurors the prosecution’s three theories for the unlawful means used to influence the 2016 election.

First, Merchan said that the unlawful means could include a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act, which caps campaign contributions. Prosecutors allege that Michael Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels exceeded the legal cap.

Second, Merchan said prosecutors argue that Trump and others falsified business records, including the bank paperwork for Essential Consultants Inc., the money wire to Daniels, and the 1099 forms related to Cohen’s repayment.

Third, Merchan said the crime could be violations of tax laws related to the “grossing up” of Cohen’s reimbursement to cover the taxes he would owe on the payment.

May 29, 10:51 AM
Merchan describes the ‘other crime’ possibly committed

Judge Merchan tells the jury that prosecutors allege that Trump attempted to conceal a violation of New York election law by falsifying business records.

“They need not prove that the other crime was committed, aided, or concealed,” Merchan said.

Prosecutors are relying on New York Election Law 17-152, which prohibits “any two or more persons who conspire to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means.” Prosecutors offered three theories of the “unlawful means” mentioned in that law.

Though jurors will need to agree Trump falsified records in furtherance of an additional crime in order to convict, “they need not be unanimous” on “what unlawful means” were used, Merchan said.

May 29, 10:47 AM
Judge instructs jury on intent

Judge Merchan instructed the jury about how to decipher intent, telling them it “does not require premeditation.”

Intent can even be momentary, Merchan said, telling the jurors the question about how to judge intent “naturally arises.”

“You must decide if the required intent can be inferred beyond a reasonable doubt,” he told them.

Merchan also said earlier, “If it is proven the defendant is criminally liable for the conduct of another, the extent or degree of defendant’s participation does not matter … The defendant is as guilty of the crime as if he had personally omitted the crime.”

May 29, 10:42 AM
Judge tells jury they can’t convict based on Cohen alone

Judge Merchan told jurors that Michael Cohen is an “accomplice” to the alleged crime, so the jury cannot convict Trump on Cohen’s testimony alone.

Even if they believe Michael Cohen, they need to rely on evidence corroborating his testimony, Merchan said.

Trump, at the defense table, appeared to perk up just a bit at this, looking up at Merchan as he delivered this information to the jury.

May 29, 10:35 AM
Judge addresses how to handle an untruthful witness

Judge Merchan told the jury that they have the ultimate authority in determining the truthfulness of a witness’ testimony — an instruction that might come in handy given the emphasis that defense lawyers placed on Michael Cohen’s testimony, which they say includes lies.

“You will alone determine the truthfully and the accuracy of the testimony of each witness,” Merchan said.

He added that the jury could either disregard the testimony of an untruthful witness entirely, or disregard part of it.

“There is no particular formula” to determine credibility, Merchan said.

“You may consider whether the witness has any interest in the outcome of the case,” he said — another matter that might weigh on jurors’ minds.

“You may consider whether a witness did have, or did not have, a motive to lie,” the judge said.

Trump’s attorney had told the jury Cohen had an “axe to grind” against his former boss. Prosecutors partially conceded that Cohen had a motive, acknowledging that, to date, he is the only one who suffered any consequences from the matter at hand.

Trump, at the defense table, appeared to look over to the jury and offer a bit of a closed-mouth grin.

May 29, 10:29 AM
Merchan says Trump can’t be judged for not testifying

Judge Merchan instructed the jury that they cannot hold Trump’s not testifying against him.

“Defendant is not required to prove that he is not guilty,” he said.

“The defendant is not required to prove or disprove anything,” said the judge.

May 29, 10:24 AM
Judge says he will be responsible for any sentencing

Judge Merchan told the jury that they should not speculate about the sentence or punishment in the case.

“It will be my responsibility to impose an appropriate sentence,” Merchan said.

The judge also had to advise the jury about this yesterday after defense lawyer Todd Blanche argued that the jury “cannot send somebody to prison” based on Michael Cohen’s testimony.

The jury appears to be laser focused on Merchan during the charge. Half of the jurors appear to be taking notes.

May 29, 10:20 AM
‘You are the judges of the facts,’ judge tells jurors

“It is not my responsibility to judge the evidence here. It is yours,” Judge Merchan told the jurors as he began his instructions for their deliberations.

“You are the judges of the facts, and you are responsible for deciding whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.”

The judge instructed jurors on avoiding “stereotypes” or “implicit biases” in their deliberations.

“As a juror you are asked to make a very important decision about another member of the community,” he said.

May 29, 10:16 AM
Judge says reading of jury charge will take an hour

Judge Juan Merchan took his seat on the bench, and Trump flashed a closed mouth smile when the judge said good morning in his usual fashion.

Before bringing the jury back into the courtroom, Merchan asked the parties to confirm the proposed verdict form.

Prosecutor Josh Steinglass flagged a minor typo, but both sides appeared to be in agreement about the form, which will the jury will fill out once they render a verdict.

After the jury was brought into the courtroom, Merchan told them the reading of the jury charge will take approximately an hour.

May 29, 10:11 AM
Trump, online, calls prosecutors’ closing statement bull—-

Former President Trump did not speak with reporters as he entered the courtroom this morning, but instead made a series of posts on social media.

Referring to prosecutors’ five-hour closing statement yesterday, Trump wrote, “THE D.A.’s OFFICE WAS ALLOWED TO GO ON WITH 5 HOURS OF BULL—- YESTERDAY.”

The defense’s closing argument took three hours.

May 29, 9:57 AM
Prosecutors, Trump arrive in courtroom

The prosecution team has entered the courtroom ahead of this morning’s jury charge.

Prosecutors Josh Steinglass, Matthew Colangelo and Rebecca Mangold are seated at the counsel table, and seven other members of the district attorney’s team are in the gallery.

Former President Trump entered the courtroom minutes later.

May 29, 9:03 AM
Reporters take their place for today’s proceedings

About 60 members of the press have filled up the courtroom’s wooden pews ahead of today’s proceedings.

As reporters settled in, a court reporter used an office chair to wheel a three-foot stack of printed transcripts into the courtroom.

She left the precarious slack of binders at the front of the courtroom near the jury box, prompting light applause from the reporters in the gallery.

May 29, 7:01 AM
Jury deliberations scheduled to get underway

The jury in Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial is scheduled to begin deliberating the outcome of the case this morning after lengthy closing arguments yesterday.

Judge Juan Merchan will begin the proceedings at 10 a.m. ET when he instructs the jury about the law in the case — a vital process that Merchan estimates will take approximately an hour.

Once the jury is charged, they can begin deliberating whether prosecutors met their burden by proving that Trump falsified 34 business records to further a criminal conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.

The jury heard nearly eight hours of summations yesterday when defense lawyer Todd Blanche and prosecutor Joshua Steinglass delivered marathon closing arguments.

Blanche told jurors that prosecutors failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt due in part to their reliance on the testimony of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who he described as the “human embodiment of reasonable doubt.”

Steinglass argued that Trump’s alleged falsification of records ahead of the election amounted to a “subversion of democracy” by hiding critical information from voters.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *