Trump not testifying in his New York hush-money trial

State prosecutors and Trump legal team rest case before closing arguments

Former US president Donald Trump speaks after a break during his hush-money trial in New York City. AFP
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Donald Trump will not testify in his historic New York hush-money trial, despite saying that he would and claiming that he had not been allowed to.

Defence lawyers for the first president to face criminal charges rested their case on Tuesday, a day after state prosecutors did the same.

Mr Trump is facing 34 felony charges of falsifying business records to cover up payments to keep scandalous stories out of the media during his 2016 presidential campaign.

The three people concerned include adult film star Stormy Daniels.

He has pleaded not guilty to all of the counts.

Mr Trump told reporters several times this spring that he wanted to testify in the legal proceedings.

“I tell the truth – I mean, all I can do is tell the truth,” he said in April.

The former president told Spectrum News this month that he would “probably” testify, and that he “would like to”.

The presumed Republican candidate for this year's presidential elections also claimed that he had not been allowed to testify because of a gag order that prohibits him from commenting on witnesses and court staff.

Judge Juan Merchan corrected Mr Trump a day later, saying that he could testify under the gag order.

David Super, professor of law at Georgetown University, told The National that lawyers would probably advise Mr Trump against speaking under oath, which could complicate his defence.

“I think their preference will be to keep them off the stand,” Mr Super said.

The former president's son, Donald Trump Jr, was asked why his father did not testify in the trial.

“There’d be absolutely no reason – no justification to do that whatsoever,” the younger Mr Trump said.

“Everyone sees it for the sham that it is."

Mr Trump faces charges in other federal and state cases related to allegedly attempting to subvert the 2020 presidential election results and mishandling classified documents.

But the New York trial is probably the only one that will take place before the election.

Closing arguments are expected next Tuesday.

Mr Merchan said that jury deliberations would not take place right away because of scheduling conflicts related to the Memorial Day holiday weekend in the US.

It is expected that jury discussions will begin soon after closing arguments are completed.

The final witness in the trial was Robert Costello – the legal adviser to Mr Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen – who angered the judge on Monday by rolling his eyes and making remarks under his breath.

Mr Merchan cleared the space and threatened to remove Mr Costello if he did not respect the court.

Mr Trump's defence tried to paint the prosecution's witnesses as not credible.

Mr Costello said that Mr Cohen told him that Mr Trump “knew nothing” about the hush-money payment to Daniels, contradicting the prosecution's star witness's testimony.

“Michael Cohen said numerous times that President Trump knew nothing about those payments, that he did this on his own, and he repeated that numerous times,” he said, according to AP.

Mr Cohen this week told jurors that he had spoken with his boss several times throughout the autumn of 2016 and had “no doubt” that Mr Trump had approved the payment to Daniels.

Updated: May 21, 2024, 11:07 PM