Trump trial enters final phase, testimony still pending

Trump trial enters final phase, testimony still pending
Trump trial enters final phase, testimony still pending

Donald Trump’s trial for hidden payments to a porn star enters its final phase this week, with final suspense over his possible testimony, final pleadings then the wait for a historic verdict, with considerable political stakes.

The tempestuous billionaire had assured, before the start of the trial on April 15, that he would testify before the jurors to “tell the truth, and the truth is that there is no case”.

But after four weeks of debates which he attended in silence, his lawyers still maintained the suspense on Friday. Experts consider it likely that the Republican presidential candidate will withdraw, to avoid exposing himself to merciless cross-examination from the prosecution.

For now, Judge Juan Merchan has told the parties to prepare for final arguments starting Tuesday. The trial will take a break on Wednesday and Friday.

After the final interventions of the prosecution and the defense, the judge 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 at the very end of the 2016 presidential campaign. To find him guilty, unanimity is required.

In such a scenario, it will be up to the judge to subsequently set the sentence, which could range from a suspended sentence 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.

19 witnesses

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

Immediately, the debates resume Monday morning with the continuation and end of the cross-examination by the defense of the number one accuser, the former personal lawyer and confidant of Donald Trump, Michael Cohen.

This key witness directly incriminated his former boss, claiming that he 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, then already married to her marries Melania. Donald Trump denies this relationship.

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

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

Michael Cohen closed a series of 19 witnesses called by the prosecution over four weeks, who plunged the jury behind the scenes of the presidential campaign won by Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton.

In this parade, colorful intermediaries appeared who lifted the veil on other transactions in the Republican candidate’s entourage to avoid scandals, such as a former tabloid boss who had worked directly with Michael Cohen and Donald Trump.

Actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, also gave a shocking testimony about her experience of meeting Donald Trump and her sexual relationship with him, a moment consensual according to her but where the “balance of power” with the The businessman was “unbalanced”.

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