Jurors in Donald Trump ‘hush money’ trial end first day of deliberations

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Jurors weighing Donald Trump’s fate have asked to review trial testimony and be reminded of the judge’s instructions on the law as their first day of deliberations in the former US president’s “hush money” case concluded without a verdict.

The requests by seven men and five women came as Trump, who is holed up in the Manhattan courthouse while he awaits a decision, railed against the case on social media, declaring it “a third-world election interference hoax”. He told reporters that “Mother Teresa could not beat these charges”.

Earlier in the day, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee had occasionally shaken his head in disapproval as the charges against him were outlined by the judge, and appeared at other times to be asleep.

Prior to receiving the case on Wednesday morning, the jury heard from Justice Juan Merchan, who urged them to “give each other’s views careful consideration” and to “not surrender an honest view of the evidence simply because [they] want the trial to end”.

After more than three hours of deliberation, they sent two notes to the judge, asking to review evidence by tabloid publisher David Pecker and former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, as well as for a refresher on the law. They were dismissed for the day just after 4pm ET, and will resume on Thursday morning.

The deliberations began a day after jurors endured nine hours of closing arguments from the prosecution and defence, during which they heard competing accounts of the events surrounding the pay-off of porn actor Stormy Daniels, who threatened to come forward with allegations of an extramarital encounter with Trump in the days before the 2016 election.

Following the publication of the Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump was heard to brag about grabbing women’s genitals, he “grew increasingly concerned about the impact that these allegations were having on voters, particularly women voters”, assistant district attorney Joshua Steinglass told jurors. The tape “and the reports that followed it were capable of costing him the whole election, and he knew it”.

The $130,000 paid to Daniels by Cohen, who used his own money, “had everything to do with the campaign”, Steinglass added.

Trump is charged with conspiring to have Cohen orchestrate a “catch and kill” scheme to keep the story from coming out, and violating election and tax laws by disguising the reimbursements as legal expenses.

Todd Blanche, a lawyer for Trump, countered that his client was primarily “concerned about his family [and] concerned about his wife” after the tape was made public, and claimed there was “no evidence” to suggest that Trump knew about the payments to Daniels in 2016, beyond the testimony of Cohen, a convicted perjurer and fraudster.

“He lied to you repeatedly,” Blanche said of the prosecution’s central witness. “He has lied to every single branch of Congress . . . he has lied to federal judges on multiple occasions,” he added. “You cannot convict somebody based upon the words of Michael Cohen.”

Under New York law, the jury must come to a unanimous decision on each of the 34 criminal counts charged. If the jury is deadlocked after significant deliberations, a mistrial would be declared, and the Manhattan district attorney would have to decide whether to retry the case.

If convicted, Trump, as a first-time offender, is unlikely to face jail time. He is also likely to appeal against the verdict, setting off a process that would take months to resolve. He is facing three other criminal cases, which are increasingly unlikely to go to trial before November’s election.

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