Trump hush money trial: Jury begin deliberations after marathon closing arguments

Jury Begins Deliberations in Donald Trump’s Hush Money Trial

NEW YORK – After a marathon day of closing arguments, the jury in Donald Trump’s hush money trial has begun deliberations, marking a significant step in the history-making case. The jury, composed of twelve New Yorkers, was sworn to be fair and impartial, and they were sent to a private room to weigh a verdict.

The trial, the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president, began on March 28, and the jurors’ discussions will be secret. They can send notes to the judge asking to rehear testimony or see evidence, and they will notify the court of a verdict or if they are unable to reach one.

In his closing remarks, Judge Juan M. Merchan reminded jurors, "It is not my responsibility to judge the evidence here. It is yours." Trump, who has pleaded not guilty, struck a pessimistic tone after leaving the courtroom, reiterating his claims of a "very unfair trial."

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records at his company in connection with an alleged scheme to hide potentially embarrassing stories about him during his 2016 Republican presidential campaign. The charge, a felony, arises from reimbursements paid to his then-lawyer Michael Cohen after Cohen made a $130,000 hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels to silence her claims of an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.

To convict Trump, the jury must find unanimously that he created a fraudulent entry in his company’s records, or caused someone else to do so, with the intent of committing or concealing another crime. The crime prosecutors allege Trump committed or hid is a violation of a New York election law making it illegal for two or more conspirators to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means.

The jury is a diverse cross-section of Manhattan residents and professional backgrounds. They often appeared riveted by testimony in the trial, including from Cohen and Daniels. Many took notes and watched intently as witnesses answered questions from Manhattan prosecutors and Trump’s lawyers.

Earlier Wednesday, the jury received instructions in the law from Merchan, who offered guidance on factors the panel can use to assess witness testimony. However, he emphasized that there is no particular formula for evaluating the truthfulness and accuracy of another person’s statement.

The trial has been marked by intense media attention, and the verdict will be closely watched both domestically and internationally. The jury’s decision will not only have implications for Trump but could also set a precedent for holding former U.S. presidents accountable for their actions. The jurors will continue their deliberations until they reach a unanimous verdict.