Donald Trump Trial Jury Begins Deliberations in Stormy Daniels Hush Money Case

The first panel to consider criminal charges against a former U.S. president got to work Wednesday morning

Donald Trump arrives Wednesday in court
Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump walks into the courtroom as he attends his criminal trial at the New York State Supreme Court in New York, New York, Wednesday, May, 29, 2024. (POOL PHOTO by Doug Mills/The New York Times

Jurors in the hush money trial of Donald Trump began deliberations Wednesday in a New York City court, becoming the first panel to weigh criminal charges against a former president in the history of the U.S. justice system.

A motorcade brought the current GOP nominee from Trump Tower, but he did not address reporters as he typically has been doing upon arrival. He did, however, post an all-caps rant on Truth Social before hitting the road.

“KANGAROO COURT!,” he posted Wednesday. “THERE WAS NO CRIME, EXCEPT FOR THE BUM THAT GOT CAUGHT STEALING FROM ME! … IN GOD WE TRUST!”

The “BUM” in this case was a reference to Michael Cohen, the key prosecution witness and former Trump fixer-lawyer who allegedly arranged a hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the late stages of the 2016 election. Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels, claims there was no payment and he and his legal team have made great efforts to paint Cohen as a serial liar.

Trump was threatened with jail time and fined multiple times in April for violating a gag order meant to prevent the former president from attacking jurors, witnesses and court staff in interviews and on social media. It wasn’t immediately known whether prosecutors or Judge Juan Merchan would flag his Wednesday morning posts for potential sanctions.

In giving his instructions first thing Wednesday morning, Merchan reminded jurors of their responsibility, underscoring that they are to set aside any personal biases.

“As a juror, you are asked to make a very important decision about another member of the community,” telling them decide the case “fairly based on the evidence of the law.”

The panel is made up of 18 Manhattan residents, six of whom are alternates. The seated jury includes seven men and five women from various professional backgrounds — including several lawyers, an investment banker, a software engineer, a teacher and a retired wealth manager, the Associated Press reported.

The trial saw 22 witnesses testify – just two for the defense – across more than four weeks of trial. Besides Cohen and Daniels, other witnesses included tabloid publisher David Pecker and lawyer Keith Davidson, who testified that he negotiated hush money deals for Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Trump faces 34 felony charges of falsifying business records with the intent to violate federal campaign finance limits, influence the 2016 election and commit tax fraud. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years if convicted on five or more counts, though most legal scholars do not believe Trump would be sentenced to serve any significant jail time.

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