Trump was a victim of extortion, lawyer tells Hush-Money jury

Donald Trump’s lawyer in his criminal hush money trial argued before a New York jury that the former president is a victim of extortion, saying the case is rooted in an attempt to squeeze him for money before the 2016 election.

Adult film star Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about an alleged sexual encounter after her publicist and lawyer threatened to make it public on the eve of the election, even though she had previously denied the affair. Trump lawyer Todd Blanche said during closing. arguments on Tuesday.

“This started out as extortion, there’s no doubt about that, and it ended very well for Ms. Daniels,” Blanche told the Manhattan jury as the former president and several family members looked on.

The first criminal trial of a former U.S. president is coming to a close after nearly five weeks of testimony and evidence in a case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump is accused of falsifying dozens of business records to conceal the payment to Daniels, part of a broader alleged scheme to influence the election with the help of the publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid.

Blanche said Daniels had the help of his agent Gina Rodriguez and his attorney Keith Davidson, who arranged the deal.

“There is a group of people who wanted to take advantage and extort President Trump,” Blanche said.

No ‘criminal intent’

Trump’s lawyer also attempted to cast doubt on the 34 counts of falsifying business records Trump faces to conceal his payment to Michael Cohen, his former lawyer who paid Daniels. They included receipts that Cohen presented, invoices that the Trump Organization prepared and checks that Trump signed. Blanche argued that the records did not demonstrate Trump’s criminal intent.

Blanche saved her most scathing vitriol for Cohen, whom prosecutors used to provide the connective tissue between the records and Trump’s criminal intent. Cohen, she said, was a serial liar who went from loving Trump to hating him, and then made millions of dollars from books and podcasts criticizing his former boss.

“Michael Cohen is the human embodiment of reasonable doubt,” Blanche said. “Michael Cohen is the GLOAT, literally the biggest liar of all time.”

Blanche said Cohen acted alone when he made the payment to Daniels, seeking to discredit her testimony that Trump authorized the deal at every step. Blanche told the jury that wasn’t true and suggested Cohen went rogue.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this trial, it’s that Michael Cohen doesn’t take that oath seriously,” Blanche said. “He has lied repeatedly,” the defense attorney said, citing a litany of lies Cohen told Congress, prosecutors and most people. More importantly, the jurors in the Trump trial. “He’s like the MVP of liars.”

Cohen, who was Bragg’s star witness after going to prison for several crimes, spent days testifying about Trump’s knowledge of the plan to maintain his silence. But Blanche said the jury should not believe Cohen, saying he admitted to lying under oath.

Blanche also sought to calm Trump’s poor political standing in Manhattan, which is heavily Democratic.

“This is not a referendum on your opinions on President Trump, it is not a referendum on the ballot box, who you voted for in 2016 and 2020, or who you plan to vote for in 2024,” Blanche said. Centered on the evidence she heard in this courtroom, this is a very, very quick and easy verdict.”

With the help of Erik Larson.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to the text.

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