The defense is expected to finish presenting its case today. Here's what happens next in the trial  (2024)

4:01 p.m. ET, May 21, 2024

The defense is expected to finish presenting its case today. Here's what happens next in the trial

From CNN's Lauren del Valle,Jhasua RazoandGillian Roberts

Trump attorney Emil Bove said Monday that the defense doesn’t expect to call any more witnesses after Robert Costello is off the the stand. Donald Trump is not required to testify at the trial, as all criminal defendants have a right to remain silent and decline to testify in their own defense.

Judge Juan Merchan indicated that he expects closing arguments to take place next Tuesday. Here's a look at what happens in the trial after the defense rests its case:

Prosecution’s rebuttal case: Prosecutors can present additional evidence specifically tailored to respond to the defense's case. The prosecution is not required to present any rebuttal evidence.

Closing arguments: Attorneys for the prosecution and defense each give a closing argument appealing to the jury that will soon consider the case. Because they have the burden of proof, prosecutors address the jury first but they also get the last word, so the prosecution will give a rebuttal argument after the defense closing argument.

Jury instruction or jury charge: The judge instructs the jury as to the charges they must consider against the defendant and the laws governing their deliberations.

Jury deliberation: A panel of 12 jurors considers the evidence presented at trial and charges against the defendant. The jury must be unanimous in its decision. The jury can communicate with the court and ask questions about the case with the court through handwritten notes.

Verdict: The jury will notify the court that they’ve reached a verdict. The verdict will then be read in court and jurors will be polled to confirm the verdict read in court reflects their own vote.

Sentencing: If the jury reaches a guilty verdict, the judge sentences the defendant, typically after a sentencing hearing at a later date.

8:43 a.m. ET, May 21, 2024

Trump departs Trump Tower for what is expected to be the last day of defense witness testimony

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian

Donald Trump departed Trump Tower moments ago and is headed to the Manhattan criminal court, where all eyes will be on Robert Costello, the theatrical witness and lawyer who advised Michael Cohen.

Costello is expected to resume his testimony after a testy exchange Monday with the judge Monday.

Court starts at 9:30 a.m. ET Tuesday with prosecutor Susan Hoffinger continuing her questioning of Costello in cross-examination. Both parties have said they do not expect to go too much longer.

8:26 a.m. ET, May 21, 2024

Donald Trump Jr., Sen. Eric Schmitt and others will join Trump in court today

From CNN's Alayna Treene

According to former President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the following people will join Trump in court today for his criminal hush money trial:

  • Donald Trump, Jr.
  • Former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker
  • Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
  • Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt
  • Republican Rep. Daniel Webster
  • Republican Rep. Dan Meuser
  • Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson
  • Republican Rep. Troy Nehls
  • Republican Rep. Dale Strong
  • Republican Rep. Maria Salazar
  • Sebastian Gorka
  • Chuck Zito
  • Joe Piscopo
  • Bill White

Several ofTrump's allies have been flocking to the Manhattan court throughout the trial to display their support for the former president.

8:16 a.m. ET, May 21, 2024

Costello will be back on the stand this morning. Here's what know about him and his role in the case

From CNN's Paula Reidand Kristen Holmes

Robert Costello, an attorney connected with Michael Cohen, will resume his testimony today on the witness stand after yesterday's contentious exchange with the judge.

Costello, who is a witness for the defense, was admonished by Judge Juan Merchan after he audibly complained when the judge sustained objections to the questions he was being asked.

Costello has been brought up numerous times during the trial, including Monday, when Donald Trump's attorney Todd Blanche asked Cohen to confirm instances in which the two communicated and met.

Costello testified on May 15 in front of a House Judiciary subcommittee and consistently criticized Cohen, saying “virtually every statement” Cohen made on the stand about Costello was a lie. Following the testimony, Trump’s team reached out to Costello.

Costello previously appeared as the only defense witness before the grand jury investigating the case in March 2023.

Trump’s attorneys called Costello as a way to try to rebut Cohen’s testimony about the pressure he was receiving in 2018 when theFBI searched his home and office.

Costello advised Cohen in the weeks after the search, though Cohen did not sign a retainer agreement and did not pay Costello, who touted in email communications his close connections withRudy Giuliani. The former New York mayor also joined Trump’s legal team in 2018.

Read more about Costello's testimony yesterday in the Trump trial.

CNN's Jeremy Herb, Lauren del Valle and Kara Scannell contributed reporting to this post.

7:53 a.m. ET, May 21, 2024

Analysis: Trump’s trialreaches crescendoas tempers fray in the courtroom

From CNN's Stephen Collinson

Twelve New Yorkers are on deck.

As Donald Trump’s first criminal trial races toward its climax, his attorneys are previewing how they will beseech a jury next week to spare their client the shame of being the first ex-president to be convicted of a crime.

On awild day in court Monday, Judge Juan Merchan accused one disrespectful defense witness of trying to stare him down, while the ex-president’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, sensationally admitted to stealing thousands of dollars from his old boss’ firm.

But beneath the uproar, there is also a clear sense that this trial – which is intertwined with the country’s future, given Trump’s bid to reclaim the White House – is now in its fateful endgame.

The presumptive Republican nominee’s lawyers made a long-shot bid for the dismissal of his first criminal trial before the jury has even been asked to deliberate. The gambit is a familiar one for defense teams that rarely works, but it offered a glimpse into the narrative Trump’s lawyers will place before the jury, likely next Tuesday, after the Memorial Day holiday.

Read the full analysis.

8:09 a.m. ET, May 21, 2024

The prosecution rested its case as witness sparred with judge. Here are key takeaways from Monday

From CNN's Jeremy Herb,Lauren del ValleandKara Scannell

The prosecution rested its case Monday in theDonald Trump hush money trial, which is barreling toward a conclusion. Michael Cohen’s testimony wrapped up after four days on the witness stand.

It wasn’t long after the defense began its case for things to get heated. Judge Juan Merchan admonished a witness for the defense, Robert Costello, after he audibly complained when the judge sustained objections to the questions he was being asked.

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Prosecution rests: Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office rested their case after calling witnesses over 15 days, including Cohen, Stormy Daniels, former Trump aideHope Hicksand ex-publisher of the National EnquirerDavid Pecker. Cohen was the key witness, accusing his former boss of directing him to pay Daniels’ attorney in October 2016 and approving the reimbursem*nt plan at the heart of the criminal case. Prosecutors also introduced a host of evidence to try to corroborate his allegations.
  • Defense witness infuriates the judge: Trump’s attorneys called Costello as a way to try to rebut Cohen’s testimony about the pressure he was receiving in 2018 when theFBI searched his home and office. Costello described his initial 2018 meeting with Cohen, in which he said Cohen told him, “I don’t have anything on Donald Trump.” But once on the stand, Costello quickly got on the wrong side of the judge, audibly protesting the sustained objections. “Ridiculous,” he could be heard saying while the attorneys approached the judge after one objection. He later let out an audible “jeez” following the judge’s ruling.
  • Trial endgame comes into focus: Trump’s side began its defense Monday afternoon — and appears likely to rest on Tuesday. The defense first called a paralegal to introduce call records between Cohen and Costello, before Costello took the stand. He’s expected to be off the stand by mid-morning Tuesday, and Trump’s attorneys said they don’t plan to call any other witnesses. Merchan said he expects to have closings next Tuesday. Once the defense rests its case, he will hold a conference with the parties to discuss the instructions to give the jury before deliberations.
9:09 a.m. ET, May 21, 2024

We are in the 6th week of Trump's hush money criminal trial. Here's what's already happened

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

We are in the sixth week of court proceedings in Donald Trump's historic hush money criminal trial.

To refresh your memory, here arethe key moments and witnessesfrom the trial so far:

April 15:Trial began with jury selection.

April 19:A panel of12 jurors and six alternateswas selected.

April 22:The prosecution and defense made their opening statements. Former tabloid boss David Pecker was called to testify.

April 23:Judge Juan Merchan held aSandoval hearingfor Trump's alleged gag order violations, but reserved his decision. Pecker continued his testimony.

April 25:While Trump sat in the Manhattan courtroom listening to Pecker's testimony, theSupreme Court in Washington, D.C., heard argumentson the matter of his immunity in special counsel Jack Smith's election subversion case against him.

April 26:Pecker's direct questioning and cross-examination concluded. Trump's former longtime assistant Rhona Graff was called to testify briefly. Michael Cohen's former banker Gary Farro was then called to the stand.

April 30:Farro's testimony concluded. Prosecutors then called Dr. Robert Browning, the executive director of C-SPAN archives, and Philip Thompson who works for a court reporting company.Then,Keith Davidson, the former attorney for Daniels and McDougal, took the stand. Also, Merchan fined Trump $9,000 for violating a gag order.

May 2:Davidson's testimony concluded. Digital evidence analystDouglas Dauswas called to testify.

May 3:After Daus finished testifying, Georgia Longstreet, a paralegal at the district attorney's office, spoke about reviewing Trump's social media posts for this case. She was followed by Hope Hicks, once a longtime Trump aide. Herhighly-anticipated testimonywas a little less than three hours.

May 6:Prosecutors calledtwo witnesseswho worked in accounting in the Trump Organization:Jeffrey McConney, a former Trump Org. controller, andDeborah Tarasoff, an accounts payable supervisor.

May 7:Prosecutors calledSally Franklin, the senior vice president and executive managing editor for Penguin Random House publishing group.After her testimony,Stormy Danielswas called to the stand.

May 9: Stormy Daniels finished her testimony, with the defense trying to undermine her credibility by pointing out inconsistencies in her story on cross-examination.

May 10: Former White House aide Madeleine Westerhout's testimony concluded. Then prosecution called several custodial witnesses to the stand.

May 13: Former Trump attorney and the prosecution's key witness, Michael Cohen, started testifying.

May 14: The prosecution completed direct questioning of Cohen and Trump's defense began cross-examination.

May 16: Trump's defense grilled Cohen, putting into question a key 2016 October call and asking him about the times he lied under oath.

May 20: Cohen wrapped up his testimony and the prosecution rested its case. The defense called its first witness, Daniel Sitko, a paralegal for defense attorney Todd Blanche. After a short round of questioning, the defense called up Robert Costello, a lawyer with a connection to Cohen. He may be the final witness, according to the prosecution.

Read a full timeline of key momentshere.

11:02 a.m. ET, May 21, 2024

What to know about Trump's defense team as its second witness testifies again today

From CNN staff

Donald Trump's legal team is led by Todd Blanche and Emil Bove, two former federal prosecutors from New York, and Susan Necheles, a veteran criminal defense lawyer with deep experience in New York and with appearing before Judge Juan Merchan.

Here are the key things to know about Trump's legal team:

  • Bovewas the co-chief of the national security unit at the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. In a statement to CNN in September 2023, Blanche said that Bove is “an expert in white collar and CIPA-related litigation.”
  • Blanchehas worked as a prosecutor and defense attorney at two large law firms,according to his website. He says that during his career as a defense attorney, he got the criminal indictment against Trump’s 2016 campaign chairmanPaul Manafort dismissedprior to trial and achieved an “unexpectedly positive result in the politically charged prosecution by the SDNY against Igor Fruman, an associate of Rudy Giuliani.” Fruman was sentenced toone year and one day in prisonfor his role in a scheme to funnel Russian money into US elections.
  • Nechelesrepresented Trump’s business at itstax fraud trial in 2022. The company was convicted.
  • Kendra Wharton, a white-collar defense lawyer who has experience practicing in Washington, DC, was added tothe former president’s legal team. She is a "brilliant lawyer" and "clients have trusted her for years," Blanche said in the 2023 statement.
10:48 a.m. ET, May 21, 2024

Recap: Monday was a dramatic day in court as prosecution rested and defense called witnesses

From CNN's Elise Hammond

The prosecution rested its case in the hush money trial against Donald Trump on Monday.

The day started with Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, back on the stand as the defense finished its cross-examination and the prosecution worked to patch up doubts on redirect. Cohenadmitted to stealingfrom the Trump Organization and was grilled about his financial interest in the trial.

The defense then called its first witness, Daniel Sitko, a paralegal for defense attorney Todd Blanche, to submit a phone chart into evidence. The calls in the chart were between Cohen and his former legal adviser, Bob Costello.

Costello was then called to the stand as the defense’s second witness.

Here’s a recap of what happened in court today:

Michael Cohen:

  • October call: Cohen maintained that he only spoke to Trump on the phone on an October 26 call about the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. Cohen said he remembers it “because it was important to me.” Last week, Trump Attorney Todd Blanche confronted Cohen with text messages he sent to Keith Schiller two days before on October 24 – whom Cohen had said put Trump on the phone – which were unrelated to the Daniels payment.
  • On re-direct: Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen if it was possible that he spoke to Trump about the Daniels payment and brought up other topics in October 2016. Cohen confirmed it was possible.
  • Stealing from the Trump Organization: The payments at the center of the case concern the $420,000 Trump paid Cohen throughout 2017. Documents show some of that money was to reimburse Cohen for unrelated tech services to a company called Red Finch. Cohen testified Monday he only paid back Red Finch $20,000 and kept the rest for himself. “So, you stole from the Trump Organization,” Blanche said. Cohen answered, “Yes sir.”
  • On re-direct: He said he took part of the money intended for Red Finch because "it was almost like self-help." Cohen confirmed that he did not have a retainer agreement and the $420,000 did not have anything to do with any legal work.
  • Other money-making opportunities: Cohen said he made $4 million in 2017 from six other consulting clients that he did “not specifically tell” Trump about. He said he was Trump’s personal attorney at that time. Cohen also said he made about $4.4 million from podcasts and books since 2020. He also testified that he has a “financial interest” in the outcome of the case but that he will talk about whether Trump is convicted or not.
  • After the Daniels payment: When the payment to Daniels became public, Cohen testified that he told multiple people and reporters that Trump knew nothing about it. Cohen has been testifying that Trump knew about the payment and that he kept his boss updated.
  • On re-direct: Cohen testified that a 2018 letter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and a 2018 public statement were misleading because they left out Trump personally. Cohen said Trump approved the substance of the false statements. He also told prosecutors that he would not have paid Daniels if Trump had not signed off.
  • Cohen and Costello: Blanche pressed Cohen on his relationship with Bob Costello, trying to argue that Cohen was working with him more than he was letting on. After Cohen was raided by the FBI, he testified Costello wanted him to speak to Rudy Giuliani. He had testified during the prosecution’s direct questioning that Costello offered him back-channel communication to Trump through Giuliani. On cross-examination, Blanche pointed out that it was Cohen who was asking Costello to go to Giuliani for information.

Bob Costello called for the defense:

  • Costello testified that Cohen told him “numerous times” that Trump did not know anything about the payment to Daniels. When Costello told Cohen that his legal issues would be resolved if he gave “truthful information” to prosecutors, Cohen told Costello that he didn’t “have anything on Donald Trump.”
  • About 14 minutes into defense attorney Emil Bove’s questioning of Costello, Judge Juan Merchan cleared the courtroom over “proper decorum.” Costello could be overheard making comments while attorneys were at a sidebar and over objections and glaring and rolling his eyes at the judge.
  • When questioning resumed, Costello said he gave Cohen legal advice during a 96-minute phone call after the raid. He denied putting pressure on Cohen to “do anything” and said he considered Cohen is client.
  • During the prosecution’s cross-examination, Costello pushed back on the notion that Costello was excited about potentially representing Cohen. Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Costello if he thought Cohen was being a “drama queen” during their meeting. Costello testified that Cohen was “putting on quite a show.”

What happens next: The prosecution will continue its cross-examination of Costello today. Hoffinger said she has up to 45 minutes left of questioning and then the defense will have the opportunity to conduct re-direct. Bove said the defense doesn’t expect to call any more witnesses, which suggests Trump will not testify in his defense. Merchan said he expects closing arguments will be next Tuesday.

The defense is expected to finish presenting its case today. Here's what happens next in the trial  (2024)


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