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In Trump’s hush money trial, prosecutors and lawyers are ready to make a final speech to the jury

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors and defense attorneys in Donald Trump’s hush money trial will make closing arguments to the jury Tuesday, with each side looking to score final points with the panel before it begins deliberating the fate of the first former U.S. president to be accused of crimes.

The arguments, expected to last all day, will give the attorneys a final chance to address the Manhattan jury hearing the landmark case. After more than four weeks of testimony, the summons pose a momentous and historically unprecedented task for the jury deciding whether to convict the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in connection with payments during the 2016 election to prevent a porn actor from coming out with her . claims of a sexual encounter with Trump.

Prosecutors will tell jurors they have heard enough testimony to convict Trump of all charges, while defense attorneys will try to cast doubt on the strength of the evidence by targeting the credibility of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer who pleaded guilty to federal charges for his role in the hush money payments and served as the prosecution’s key witness in the trial.

After closing arguments are delivered, the judge will instruct the jury, likely Wednesday, on the law applicable to the case and factors to consider during deliberations. The deliberations will then take place in secret, although some clues about the jury’s thinking can be gleaned from the notes it sends to the judge with questions.

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Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying company records, which carries a penalty of up to four years in prison. He has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing. It is unclear whether prosecutors will seek prison time in the event of a conviction, or whether the judge would impose that sentence if requested.

The case centers on a $130,000 payment Cohen made to porn actor Stormy Daniels in the final days of the 2016 election to prevent her from going public with her story about a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump a decade earlier. had had in a hotel suite in Lake Tahoe. . Trump has denied Daniels’ statement, and his lawyer accused her of making it up during hours of questioning in the trial.

When Trump reimbursed Cohen, the payments were recorded as being for legal services, which prosecutors say were intended to conceal the true purpose of the transaction with Daniels and illegally interfere in the 2016 election, in which Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

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Trump’s lawyers argue these were legitimate payments for actual legal services, and they say his celebrity status, especially during the campaign, made him a target for extortion, points they are expected to revisit during their closing arguments on Tuesday.

The nearly two dozen witnesses included Daniels, who described in sometimes vivid detail the meeting she said she had with Trump; David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, who testified that he used his media business to protect Trump by suppressing stories that could hurt his campaign, including by paying $150,000 to a former Playboy model to preventing her from going public with the claim that she had had a years-long affair with Trump; and Cohen, who testified that Trump was deeply involved in the hush money discussions – “Just pay it,” the now-disbarred lawyer quoted Trump as saying.

Prosecutors are expected to remind jurors of the bank statements, emails and other evidence they reviewed, as well as an audio recording in which Cohen and Trump can be heard discussing the deal involving Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Defense attorneys have called two witnesses — neither of them Trump. They focused much of their energy on discrediting Cohen, pressuring him about his own criminal history, his past lies and his recollection of key details.

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For example, under cross-examination, Cohen admitted that he stole tens of thousands of dollars from Trump’s company by asking for reimbursement of money he had not spent. Cohen once acknowledged to a prosecutor that he felt Daniels and her lawyer were extorting Trump.

Although jurors witnessed countless memorable moments, they won’t hear about exchanges and statements that took place outside their presence during closing arguments — and there were many. For example, Judge Juan M. Merchan fined Trump $10,000 for violating a gag order, barring inflammatory extrajudicial comments, and threatened to jail him if this continued.

The New York prosecutor is one of four criminal cases Trump faces in his bid to reclaim the White House from Democrat Joe Biden.

The three other state and federal cases involve allegations of illegally hoarding classified documents from his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, and conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election. But it is unclear whether any of them will stand trial before the November election.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of former President Donald Trump at https://apnews.com/hub/donald-trump.

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