Jurors begin deliberating in Trump hush-money trial

Former US president faces 34 felony charges of falsifying business records

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The jury in Donald Trump's hush-money trial started deliberations on Wednesday, a milestone in the first criminal case against a former US president, and will continue to do so on Thursday.

The 12-member jury will have law and case instructions by Judge Juan Merchan be re-read to them when they re-convene on Thursday morning, something they had requested.

The jurors also requested that four parts of testimonies be re-read to them.

The former president is facing 34 felony charges on falsifying business records, along with his fixer Michael Cohen and with publications, to cover up payments and keep scandalous stories from becoming public during his 2016 campaign.

The alleged stories included an affair with adult film performer Stormy Daniels, who testified in the trial, and another with a former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Mr Trump has denied extramarital relationships with Daniels and McDougal. He has also pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The jury heard testimony from more than 20 witnesses over five weeks.

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

The six alternate jurors were ordered to stay on standby.

Jurors have to decide beyond reasonable doubt whether Mr Trump created a fraudulent entry in his company's records – or had someone else do it – and did so with the intent of covering up another crime.

They also have to decide if Mr Trump intentionally falsified business records to hide a crime to benefit his electoral campaign, which is a felony violation of a New York election law.

Any verdict to either convict or acquit him must be unanimous among the 12-member jury.

If found guilty, falsifying business records could result in up to four years in prison, although such an outcome is unlikely because imprisonment doesn't happen often for first-time offenders.

It is possible that a mistrial could occur if the jury cannot reach an unanimous verdict.

The jury was dismissed after more than four hours of deliberations on Wednesday afternoon.

This is the first court trial of any US president – sitting or former.

He did not testify, even after saying several times he wanted to.

Mr Merchan said Mr Trump and his lawyers were required to remain in the Manhattan court in New York during deliberations.

After the jury began deliberations, Mr Trump published a string of posts on his Truth Social platform.

"These charges are rigged. The whole thing is rigged," he said in a post, claiming that Mother Teresa "could not beat these charges".

Mr Trump is also facing legal challenges related to allegedly trying to subvert the 2020 election results, when he lost to Democrat Joe Biden, and mishandling classified documents after his presidency ended.

The New York case is most likely to be the only one to go to trial before the November 5 presidential election, in which it is presumed he will face off with Mr Biden again.

Mr Trump has claimed that the legal cases against him are "election interference".

Updated: May 29, 2024, 8:53 PM