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Judge Says Closing Arguments in Trump’s Hush Money Trial Will Be Next Week

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The sixth week of former President Donald Trump’s “hush money” trial on allegations of faking company records began on Monday and is almost over.

Justice Juan Merchan of the New York Supreme Court delivered a massive ruling on Monday, saying that closing arguments will take place next week.

Michael Cohen’s testimony is expected to end on Monday. Using Cohen’s past of lying and breaking the law, Trump’s lawyers attempted to undermine Cohen’s credibility last week. Prosecutors claim that other witnesses and financial documents support Cohen’s testimony.

Justice Merchan also gave the defense some direction on the topics on which he would permit former Federal Election Commission chairman Bradley A. Smith to testify. To demonstrate to the jury that Trump wasn’t trying to sway the 2016 election with his purported business record violations, the defense wants Smith to go over how federal election laws operate.

Experts are not allowed to explain or interpret the law, according to Merchan. “However, it seems to this court that it would be impossible for Mr. Smith to testify about” campaign finance law “without discussing or invoking federal law in terms of precedent, agency opinions, or the intent of creation behind some of these rules.”

He said Smith could read the pertinent legislation and regulations but not interpret them, failing which prosecutors might call in their campaign finance expert and make the trial a “battle of the experts.”

When asked by defense lawyer Emil Bove if Merchan intended to give the jury instructions on campaign finance and manipulating an election, the judge said he would not until he had seen proposals from both sides. When Merchan finally instructed the defense to present him with evidence of what Smith would say, Bove complied.

Things have not been going well for District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

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Hope Hicks, who served as a counselor to the president for Trump, had an emotional breakdown when testifying in Bragg’s hush money case last week.

Hicks worked for Trump beginning a mere two years after she left college and had a long professional relationship with him. She was previously called to testify before the House January 6 Committee, and now the case is about alleged payments made to adult movie actress Stormy Daniels.

Hicks broke down in court, prompting Judge Juan Merchan to call for a short recess. After she testified for the prosecution, the defense attorney, Emil Bove, cross-examined her, and she quickly “broke down,” MSNBC reported.

“I want to talk to you about your time at the Trump Organization,” the attorney said to Hicks before she started to get emotional.

“Sorry about that,” she said after returning to the witness stand.

“No, it’s okay,” the attorney for the former president said.

“Absolutely…I don’t think he wanted anyone in his family to be hurt or embarrassed about anything on the campaign.  He wanted them to be proud of him,” Hicks testified.

Her testimony was an “epic miscalculation that backfired spectacularly” on the prosecution, Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett said.

“The account by Hicks demolishes District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s primary claim against Trump that he paid porn star Stormy Daniels for her silence with the intent to benefit his campaign and, thereby, influence the election by ‘unlawful means.’  To the contrary, it nicely corroborates the findings of a federal investigation that no crimes were committed, or campaign finance laws broken because there was another purpose for the non-disclosure agreement that Daniels signed,” he said.

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“Like the prosecution witnesses before her, Hicks disparaged Bragg’s planned star witness, Michael Cohen, Trump’s one-time personal lawyer.  ‘He used to like to call himself Mr. Fix-It, but it was only because he first broke it.’ Ouch!  But that denigrating remark is tame compared to the other derisive comments that have been leveled thus far at the insufferable Cohen, who is a convicted liar who went to prison,” he said.

“Hicks confirmed that Trump was aware that Cohen paid off Daniels to end what can fairly be described as aggressive blackmail demands. When the election drew near, Daniels ratcheted up her greedy scheme to profit from Trump by threatening to go public about a supposed affair, which he denied.  Not incidentally, she renounced the purported tryst. Then, in a head-spinning maneuver, she recanted her repudiation,” the analyst said.

It was something that her former attorney, Michael Avenatti, said on X, formerly Twitter, from his prison cell.

“Keith Davidson is lying,” he said on Thursday. “After I confronted her w/ her own text msgs, Daniels admitted to me in early 2019 that she & Davidson had extorted Trump in Oct. 2016 – it was a shakedown.”

“This was one of the many reasons I fired her as a client in Feb. 2019,” he said.

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Davidson was the attorney for Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who secured confidentially agreements and payoffs for both of them.

Jarrett wondered where the crime was in the case, as confidentiality agreements are not against the law.

“The payments made were not illegal.  Non-disclosure contracts in exchange for silence are not unlawful. Killing negative stories violates no statutes.  More to the point, it is not a crime for Trump to know about a non-crime. That would be a senseless syllogism,” the legal analyst said.

“So, where exactly is the crime? To quote a memorable line from ‘Shakespeare In Love,’ ‘I don’t know…it’s a mystery!’” he said.

“There is, however, no mystery behind Alvin Bragg’s politically driven prosecution of Trump.  Out of thin air, the DA conjured up expired misdemeanors, dumped them into a Cuisinart, tossed in a garbage state statute that doesn’t apply to a federal election, hit the “puree” button, and then poured out an absurd concoction of faux felonies,” he said.

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