Trump Defense Scores Rare Win With Merchan 

Daily Report May 22,2024

Former President Donald Trump’s Hush money trial concluded its witness testimony phase on Tuesday, with both the defense counsel and prosecutor set to give their closing arguments next week.

Prosecutors and defense counsel met with Judge Juan Merchan, who presides over the case, to discuss potential instructions to the jurors when they begin their deliberation. Part of the statements Trump’s lawyers want Merchan to include reads, “If the payment would have been made even in the absence of the candidacy … payment should not be treated as a contribution.”

Criminal defense attorney Bill Brennan explained that the instruction means that the jury will not see the payment as a campaign contribution because the former president would have paid Stormy Daniels for her silence regardless of his 2016 candidacy. Reports suggest Merchanis set to include the statement in his final instruction to jurors.

Brennan, while speaking on Fox News “America Reports,” insisted that the instruction will likely push the jury to rule in favor of President Trump.

“That’s huge because so many of these pro-prosecution pundits have said, ‘well, it came right after the TMZ tape, right before the election, other NDAs were paid. The liar doorman about the illegitimate child that didn’t exist, the McDougal money, so if the money would’ve been paid anyways and the judge is willing to instruct the jury that way, that moves the ball a lot further towards the not guilty yard line,” Brennan, who previously represented former president, said.

Should Merchan instruct the statement in his final instructions to the jury, it will mark one of the few times the judge has sided with the former president’s attorneys. Merchan has largely shut down most of the defense requests, including a demand to have former Federal Election Commission (FEC) commissioner Brad Smith testify if the former president broke campaign finance laws.

The judge also clashed with Cohen’s former legal adviser, Bob Costello, during his testimony. Costello had been testifying in court as a witness for the defense. Costello was frustrated with Merchan after the judge seemed to sustain every objection made by prosecutors.

According to Conservative Archives, Costello previously testified before Congress that Cohen told him that he had nothing incriminating against Donald Trump. Costello told lawmakers he informed Cohen that the DOJ did not want him and that they wanted Trump, who was president at the time. Cohen insisted that he had nothing against the then-president, adding that he would do anything to stay out of jail.

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