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Jury starts day two of Trump trial deliberations

By AFP

May 30, 2024 09:18 PM


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Jurors returned Thursday to a second day of deliberations in Donald Trump's criminal trial with detailed requests to review portions of the evidence and rehear the judge's instructions, leaving the Republican presidential candidate stuck awaiting his fate.

Trump, 77, arrived in court with his now customary daily attack in front of the TV cameras against the "corrupt" judge. He claimed again to be a victim of a political attack "at the request" of his November election opponent President Joe Biden.

But he, like the rest of the country, can only sit and wait while the jury of 12 ordinary New Yorkers deliberates in a closed room.

After already spending more than five weeks attending his trial, Trump has likewise been ordered by Judge Juan Merchan to remain in the courthouse until the verdict arrives.

He is accused of falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment to a porn star on the eve of his 2016 election win against Hillary Clinton, so that she would not go public with her claim to having had casual sex with him.

Prosecutors say Trump broke the law both with the cover-up and the plot to prevent voters from knowing about his behavior.

Trump pleaded not guilty to the 34 counts and is hoping for an acquittal or a mistrial, which would be declared if the jury is unable to reach unanimity.

Polls show him running strongly against Biden and the scandal having little impact on his hard-right political movement.

Nothing is known about the jury's intentions. However, the panel was clearly doing its homework, asking Merchan to reread Thursday his lengthy instructions on how to interpret the law -- as well as to review several segments of evidence.

The jurors -- their identities kept secret for their own protection amid nationwide political tensions -- will then return to work behind closed doors.

- 'Common sense' -

In closing arguments on Tuesday, Trump's defense team insisted the evidence for a conviction simply did not exist, while the prosecution countered that it was voluminous and inescapable.

"The defendant's intent to defraud could not be any clearer," said prosecutor Joshua Steinglass, urging the jurors to use their "common sense" and return a guilty verdict.

If convicted, Trump faces up to four years in prison on each of the 34 counts, but legal experts say that as a first-time offender he is unlikely to get jail time.

A conviction would not bar him from the November ballot and he would almost certainly appeal. In the case of a mistrial, prosecutors could seek a new trial.

Trump -- required to attend every day of the proceedings -- has used his trips to court and the huge media presence to spread his claim that the trial is a Democratic ploy to keep him off the campaign trail.

Polls show Trump neck and neck against Biden, and the verdict will inflame passions as the White House race intensifies.

In addition to the New York case, Trump has been indicted in Washington and Georgia on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

He also faces charges in Florida of hoarding huge quantities of classified documents after leaving the White House.

However, the New York case is the only one likely to come to trial by election day.


AFP


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