Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom for his...

Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom for his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday. Credit: AP/Michael M. Santiago

Former President Donald Trump's defense team rested its case Tuesday without calling the current presidential candidate to the stand in his historic hush money trial in Manhattan, where jurors are expected to begin determining Trump's fate sometime next week.

Trump, 77, said he was feeling “very good” as he spoke to reporters after the defense's last witness concluded his testimony Tuesday morning. Trump had previously said publicly that he wanted to testify in his own defense, a potentially perilous legal strategy that his attorneys eventually decided not to pursue.

But Trump, the first president or ex-president to go on trial in a criminal case, has the sole discretion to determine whether or not to testify, like any other criminal defendant. The jury will later be directed to not make any inferences based on the lack of testimony from Trump, who is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with a $130,000 hush money payment allegedly made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Instead, the defense focused its case on attempting to discredit the prosecution's star witness, Michael Cohen, a Lawrence native, who previously worked as Trump's personal attorney and testified that he paid the $130,000 to Daniels just before the 2016 election to conceal a sexual encounter she had with Trump in order to protect his chances of winning the election.

Cohen, 57, a convicted perjurer and disbarred lawyer, was reimbursed by Trump, whose business filings, according to prosecutors, falsely claimed that Cohen was being paid for legal fees pursuant to a retainer, which is the basis for the prosecution's case.

It is unclear what impact the defense's witness, Nassau County-based criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor Robert Costello, had on the jury after his dramatic standoff with the presiding judge; in a nearly unprecedented move, the judge ordered almost all spectators inside the courtroom — including journalists — to leave so he could admonish Costello for his antics on the witness stand.

Supreme Court Justice Juan M. Merchan cleared the courtroom Monday after Costello was heard muttering “ridiculous” and “jeez” in response to the judge's sustained objections and allegedly staring down the judge, who later warned Trump's legal counsel outside the presence of the jury that he would remove Costello from the witness stand and strike his testimony from the record if his conduct continued.

Costello, who was on the stand for a little over an hour Tuesday, denied Cohen’s earlier testimony that he pressured the former fixer to hire him as a defense lawyer to act as a back channel to then-president Trump after the FBI raided his home and office.

“Intimidate Michael Cohen? Ridiculous. No,” Costello said under cross-examination by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger.

Costello, who has represented former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, finished testifying without incident Tuesday.

Following the conclusion of Costello's testimony, Merchan told the jury it would hear closing arguments in the case next Tuesday. Depending on the length of the summations from the prosecution and defense, the jury could be given legal instructions by the judge as early as Tuesday afternoon. Jury deliberations would begin shortly thereafter.

If convicted, Trump faces up to four years in prison, though he could receive a non-incarceratory sentence of probation given the fact that he is charged with nonviolent offenses and has not previously been convicted of a crime. Trump, however, has other legal problems to contend with.

Including the hush money case, Trump is facing some 88 criminal charges in four states. Trump has been indicted in Georgia on election interference charges; in Washington, D.C., in connection with allegations he incited the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol; and in Florida, where he is charged with mishandling classified documents that prosecutors have said were found at his residence in Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House in 2021.

Following the end of trial testimony in the New York case, during which the jury heard about the inner workings of the tabloid business as well as some colorful details about the alleged sexual encounter between Trump and Daniels, the judge and lawyers held a charge-conference Tuesday afternoon to debate the exact language of the legal instructions that will be delivered to the jury. The prosecution, which called more than 20 witnesses, rested its case Monday.

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Matthew Colangelo cited the underlying crime that prosecutors alleged Trump violated — New York election law section 17-152, conspiracy to promote or prevent election.

“The other crime here is the election law violation, when two or more people have conspired to promote an election by unlawful means,” Colangelo said.

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche has argued there was insufficient evidence to support the charges because Cohen provided legitimate services, the relationship between Trump and Cohen was personal, and there was no conspiracy or underlying attempt to sway the election.

For the first time Tuesday, Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., attended the trial.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to cover up the reimbursements he paid to Cohen.

The charges, which on their own are misdemeanors, have been upgraded to felony-level crimes because the Manhattan district attorney’s office argued they were part of a conspiracy to cover up another crime — conspiracy to promote an election by unlawful means.

Prosecutors argued in their opening statement that Trump, Cohen and former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker engaged in a criminal conspiracy to 'catch and kill' negative stories about Trump, including the Daniels allegations, and publish unflattering stories about Trump's political opponents.

Former President Donald Trump's defense team rested its case Tuesday without calling the current presidential candidate to the stand in his historic hush money trial in Manhattan, where jurors are expected to begin determining Trump's fate sometime next week.

Trump, 77, said he was feeling “very good” as he spoke to reporters after the defense's last witness concluded his testimony Tuesday morning. Trump had previously said publicly that he wanted to testify in his own defense, a potentially perilous legal strategy that his attorneys eventually decided not to pursue.

But Trump, the first president or ex-president to go on trial in a criminal case, has the sole discretion to determine whether or not to testify, like any other criminal defendant. The jury will later be directed to not make any inferences based on the lack of testimony from Trump, who is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with a $130,000 hush money payment allegedly made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Instead, the defense focused its case on attempting to discredit the prosecution's star witness, Michael Cohen, a Lawrence native, who previously worked as Trump's personal attorney and testified that he paid the $130,000 to Daniels just before the 2016 election to conceal a sexual encounter she had with Trump in order to protect his chances of winning the election.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Former President Donald Trump's defense team rested its case Tuesday without calling the current presidential candidate to the stand in his historic hush money trial in Manhattan.
  • Trump said he was feeling “very good” as he spoke to reporters after the defense's last witness concluded his testimony Tuesday morning.
  • He had previously said publicly that he wanted to testify in his own defense, a potentially perilous legal strategy that his attorneys eventually decided not to pursue.

Cohen, 57, a convicted perjurer and disbarred lawyer, was reimbursed by Trump, whose business filings, according to prosecutors, falsely claimed that Cohen was being paid for legal fees pursuant to a retainer, which is the basis for the prosecution's case.

It is unclear what impact the defense's witness, Nassau County-based criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor Robert Costello, had on the jury after his dramatic standoff with the presiding judge; in a nearly unprecedented move, the judge ordered almost all spectators inside the courtroom — including journalists — to leave so he could admonish Costello for his antics on the witness stand.

Supreme Court Justice Juan M. Merchan cleared the courtroom Monday after Costello was heard muttering “ridiculous” and “jeez” in response to the judge's sustained objections and allegedly staring down the judge, who later warned Trump's legal counsel outside the presence of the jury that he would remove Costello from the witness stand and strike his testimony from the record if his conduct continued.

Costello, who was on the stand for a little over an hour Tuesday, denied Cohen’s earlier testimony that he pressured the former fixer to hire him as a defense lawyer to act as a back channel to then-president Trump after the FBI raided his home and office.

“Intimidate Michael Cohen? Ridiculous. No,” Costello said under cross-examination by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger.

Costello, who has represented former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, finished testifying without incident Tuesday.

Emil Bove, left, and Susan Necheles, defense lawyers for former...

Emil Bove, left, and Susan Necheles, defense lawyers for former President Donald Trump, return to court for Trump's hush money trial in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday. Credit: Pool/Dave Sanders

Following the conclusion of Costello's testimony, Merchan told the jury it would hear closing arguments in the case next Tuesday. Depending on the length of the summations from the prosecution and defense, the jury could be given legal instructions by the judge as early as Tuesday afternoon. Jury deliberations would begin shortly thereafter.

If convicted, Trump faces up to four years in prison, though he could receive a non-incarceratory sentence of probation given the fact that he is charged with nonviolent offenses and has not previously been convicted of a crime. Trump, however, has other legal problems to contend with.

Including the hush money case, Trump is facing some 88 criminal charges in four states. Trump has been indicted in Georgia on election interference charges; in Washington, D.C., in connection with allegations he incited the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol; and in Florida, where he is charged with mishandling classified documents that prosecutors have said were found at his residence in Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House in 2021.

Following the end of trial testimony in the New York case, during which the jury heard about the inner workings of the tabloid business as well as some colorful details about the alleged sexual encounter between Trump and Daniels, the judge and lawyers held a charge-conference Tuesday afternoon to debate the exact language of the legal instructions that will be delivered to the jury. The prosecution, which called more than 20 witnesses, rested its case Monday.

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Matthew Colangelo cited the underlying crime that prosecutors alleged Trump violated — New York election law section 17-152, conspiracy to promote or prevent election.

“The other crime here is the election law violation, when two or more people have conspired to promote an election by unlawful means,” Colangelo said.

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche has argued there was insufficient evidence to support the charges because Cohen provided legitimate services, the relationship between Trump and Cohen was personal, and there was no conspiracy or underlying attempt to sway the election.

For the first time Tuesday, Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., attended the trial.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to cover up the reimbursements he paid to Cohen.

The charges, which on their own are misdemeanors, have been upgraded to felony-level crimes because the Manhattan district attorney’s office argued they were part of a conspiracy to cover up another crime — conspiracy to promote an election by unlawful means.

Prosecutors argued in their opening statement that Trump, Cohen and former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker engaged in a criminal conspiracy to 'catch and kill' negative stories about Trump, including the Daniels allegations, and publish unflattering stories about Trump's political opponents.

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

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