Robert De Niro trolls Donald Trump outside secret money trial

“What you just heard is a desperate, failed, pathetic campaign that knows they are losing,” spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said in response. “It is a complete concession that this trial is a witch hunt coming from above.”

The war of words came as closing arguments began Tuesday (New York time) in the hush money trial, where hundreds of people lined up for hours (some of them professionals paid to camp out for days) just to get one of the few. seating inside the 15th floor courtroom.

The former president has been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment his then-lawyer Michael Cohen made to hush up an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels.

Prosecutors say Trump ordered the payment to stop the scandal that derailed his chances of becoming president in 2016, and that he later repaid Cohen when he was president, but disguised the payment as a legal retainer, in violation of the law.

But in his closing remarks Tuesday, defense attorney Todd Blanche insisted that the payments to Cohen were legitimate fees for his legal services and that there was “absolutely no intent to defraud.”

“Beyond that, there was no conspiracy to influence the 2016 election,” he added.

Michael Cohen leaves his apartment building on his way to Manhattan Criminal Court.

Michael Cohen leaves his apartment building on his way to Manhattan Criminal Court.Credit: AP

Blanche spent considerable time reminding the jury that Cohen was a convicted criminal and a liar whose word could not be trusted, describing him as “the embodiment of reasonable doubt.”

She also took aim at Daniels, who had previously told the jury in explicit detail about the one-night stand she had with Trump in 2006, when he was newly married to his current wife Melania.

Seeking to portray the adult film star as someone who wanted to make money from the former president, he told them: “She wrote a book, she has a podcast and a documentary.”

“This started as extortion. There is no doubt about it and everything ended very well for Mrs. Daniels, from a financial point of view,” Blanche said.

Stormy Daniels recounted having sex with Donald Trump in a hotel room.

Stormy Daniels recounted having sex with Donald Trump in a hotel room.Credit: getty

Prosecutor Josh Steinglass began his closing argument by reminding jurors that, at its core, the case against Trump is about “a conspiracy and a cover-up.”

And that conspiracy, he said, began with an August 2015 meeting at Trump Tower between Trump, Cohen and National Researcher editor David Pecker, where they devised a plan to bury damaging stories about the new Republican candidate, in a practice known as “catch and kill.”

To this end, the National Researcher was a “covert arm” of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Steinglass said, and “this plan, devised by these men, at this point, could very well be what got President Trump elected.”

While Trump has consistently denied wrongdoing, prosecutors have shown jurors that 11 checks, 12 accounting entries and 11 invoices (which make up the 34 records contained in the charges) were used to pay Cohen in 2017.

David Pecker answers questions on the witness stand at the trial.

David Pecker answers questions on the witness stand at the trial.Credit: AP

The invoices were transferred through the Trump Organization’s accounting staff, with some of the money coming from a Trump family trust and most from personal accounts.

The New York trial is one of four criminal trials Trump faces, but it is the only one he has not been able to delay before the Nov. 5 election.

Charging

If the jury finds him guilty of all 34 charges, he could receive a prison sentence of up to four years, although Judge Juan Merchán could also impose probation or a lesser sentence given the non-violent nature of the crime and the act. that Trump has no criminal record.

Alternatively, the jury may not be able to reach a unanimous decision, resulting in a hung jury and a mistrial, or they could find Trump not guilty, resulting in an acquittal.

As the jury took a brief break at 5 p.m., after a full day of closing arguments, Trump posted from his Truth Social online site.

“BORED!” he wrote.