First day of deliberations at Donald Trump’s historic criminal trial – 05/29/2024 at 11:43 p.m.

First day of deliberations at Donald Trump’s historic criminal trial – 05/29/2024 at 11:43 p.m.
First day of deliberations at Donald Trump’s historic criminal trial – 05/29/2024 at 11:43 p.m.

Former US President Donald Trump, with his fist raised, walks into the Manhattan courtroom on May 29, 2024 in New York (POOL/Curtins MEANS)

The 12 jurors who have in their hands the legal fate of Donald Trump concluded their first day of deliberations on Wednesday without finding a verdict in the first criminal trial in the history of a former president of the United States who aspires to become one again.

Manhattan court judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over this trial with extraordinary stakes, in the middle of the presidential campaign, ordered the seven men and five women at the end of the morning to withdraw behind closed doors, after asking them to put their side aside. “personal opinions”.

“You have an obligation to put aside (your) personal opinions whether they are favorable or against the accused,” he solemnly warned while reading his instructions to these 12 citizens of New York.

In the afternoon, the jurors indicated that they wanted to hear again his instructions, a sort of legal manual for the case, as well as passages from certain testimony at the trial.

The judge then told them that his readings would take place Thursday morning and released them from their obligations.

After six weeks of debates where it was often a question of sex, money and power, the jury finds itself faced with a single question: was Donald Trump guilty of 34 falsifications of accounting documents, intended to hide a $130,000 payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels to avoid a sex scandal at the very end of her 2016 presidential campaign?

The former president of the United States will have to return to Manhattan court on Thursday, the judge having prohibited him from leaving the court during all deliberations.

– “Mother Teresa” –

Campaigning for the November 5 presidential election, forced since mid-April to come to the courtroom every day, the Republican billionaire once again raged to the press against “a scandalous situation” and denounced “rigged (criminal) prosecutions”.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement to the press during jury deliberations at Manhattan Court on May 29, 2024 in New York (POOL/Jabin Botsford)

Even the Catholic saint “Mother Teresa could not brush aside these accusations,” he said, once the judge gave his instructions to the jurors.

Jurors entered the most crucial phase of the trial, after listening on Tuesday to the defense calling for a “quickly done, well done” acquittal, then to prosecutors calling for his conviction for having “subverted democracy.”

In the event of a positive response, the 2024 presidential campaign would fall into an unprecedented scenario.

Donald Trump could appeal and still appear on November 5 against Joe Biden, the 81-year-old outgoing Democratic president, but with the label of being convicted in court.

Jurors’ deliberations can take several days. They will have to be unanimous to declare Donald Trump guilty or not guilty.

– “Plot” –

During a five-hour indictment on Tuesday, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass tried one last time to convince the jurors that behind the accounting falsifications, “the heart of this affair is a conspiracy and a cover-up” to win the November 2016 presidential election. against Hillary Clinton, paying to hide information from voters.

Stormy Daniels, leaving the Manhattan court, in New York, May 9, 2024 (AFP / Charly TRIBALLEAU)

The money was used to buy Stormy Daniels’ silence about a sexual relationship she claims to have had in 2006 with the billionaire, when he was already married to his wife Melania, an episode denied by Donald Trump.

The sum was paid to the actress by Michael Cohen, the former confidant of the businessman and Republican leader.

Once Donald Trump was in the White House, in 2017, Michael Cohen was reimbursed, using, according to the prosecution, false invoices and entries disguised as “legal fees” in the accounts of the Trump Organization , hence the prosecution for accounting falsifications.

For the defense, this thesis does not hold. Donald Trump, now “leader of the free world” and busy with much more important problems, did not know the details of the paperwork when he paid his lawyer.

But for prosecutors, there was indeed a “plot” ahead of the campaign to chase away any threat of a sexual scandal, even if it meant taking out the checkbook to silence witnesses. The accusation is based on a meeting which allegedly took place in August 2015 between Donald Trump, Michael Cohen and the boss of an American tabloid, David Pecker.

On Wednesday, jurors asked to rehear passages of David Pecker’s testimony.



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