Donald Trump trial: Jury deliberations begin as former president appears pessimistic outside court

The jury in Donald Trump’s hush money trial has completed its first day of deliberations – while the former president once again labelled the proceedings “unfair” as he spoke outside the court.

Trump is facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, as part of an alleged scheme to bury stories that could hinder his 2016 presidential campaign.

Prosecutors say the reimbursements, paid to Ms Daniels via Trump’s then lawyer Michael Cohen, were falsely logged as “legal expenses” to hide the true nature of the transactions.

Trump denies the affair and all charges against him.

The 12-person jury at Manhattan Criminal Court, New York, is now deliberating on the evidence heard over more than four weeks – which included 22 witness testimonies and hours of closing arguments from lawyers.

Former President Donald Trump sits in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. Pic: AP
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Trump appeared glum as he sat in the courtroom on Wednesday. Pic: AP

FILE - Stormy Daniels arrives at an event in Berlin, on Oct. 11, 2018. Witness testimony in Donald Trump's hush money trial is set to move forward again and all eyes are on who will be called next. An attorney for Stormy Daniels says the porn actor is expected to appear as a witness on Tuesday.  File pic: AP
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Stormy Daniels, seen here in 2018, testified in the four-week long trial. File pic: AP

The first day of deliberations saw the jury send two notes to the judge, as they asked to rehear jury instructions as well testimonies from National Enquirer publisher David Pecker and Trump’s former lawyer Mr Cohen.

They specifically want to rehear Mr Pecker and Mr Cohen’s remarks about a 2015 Trump Tower meeting, where the former agreed to identify negative stories for then presidential candidate Trump.

Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. Pic: AP
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The former president has frequently addressed reporters outside the court Pic: AP

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They also requested to rehear Mr Pecker’s words on a phone call about a deal with Karen McDougal – who alleges she had an affair with Trump – and his decision not to sell the rights for her story to Trump.

The jury cannot be given a transcript and the testimonies will instead be read to them in the courtroom.

Judge Juan M. Merchan said it will take some time to gather the requested sections and about half an hour for it to be read aloud.

Trump lashes out again

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Trump dismisses trial as ‘rigged’

Trump struck a pessimistic tone as he left the courtroom after jury instructions were read – repeating his claim it’s a “very unfair trial” and saying: “Mother Teresa could not beat those charges, but we’ll see. We’ll see how we do.”

He remained in the courthouse as deliberations were under way and made a series of posts on his Truth Social platform complaining about the case.

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In one post, all in capital letters, Trump claimed he didn’t “know what the charges are in this rigged case” despite being present in court when the judge detailed them to jurors.

The jury will resume deliberations at 9.30am local time on Thursday.

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