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Trump’s Lawyers Rest Case After Calling Only 2 Witnesses; Experts Say Strategy Is Common


NEW YORK In his hush money trial, Donald Trump’s legal team rested its case on Tuesday, having called only two witnesses and choosing not to have the former president testify on his own behalf.

However, as criminal defense attorneys and former prosecutors point out, it isn’t all that uncommon, despite what Hollywood courtroom dramas might suggest.

The defense merely needs to demonstrate that there is a reasonable doubt that their client committed a crime, whereas prosecutors are required to provide proof for their case. Furthermore, calling different witnesses is not always necessary for defense attorneys to expose flaws in the prosecution’s case.

Former federal prosecutor in New York and white-collar defense attorney Sarah Krissoff stated, “The prosecution bears a heavy burden.”

Trump is accused of fabricating documents at his business to conceal the real purpose of payments given to Michael Cohen, one of his attorneys, in 2017. The money, according to the prosecution, was used by Cohen to stifle unfavorable reports about his boss during the 2016 presidential campaign, including one that said he had sexual contact with porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump, who disputes Daniels’ story, claims the business appropriately categorized them as legal costs.

According to Krissoff and other experts, defense attorneys spend the majority of their time challenging the credibility and testimony of prosecution witnesses during cross-examination.

“During cross-examination, the defense story is revealed, and they will bring everything together during the closing statement,” the witness clarified.

Defense attorneys frequently bring one or two of their own witnesses, if any at all.

According to Krissoff, the defense team works hard to ensure that any incriminating material is excluded from the trial and that the jury never sees or hears it. This work is done in large part prior to the trial starting.

She stated, “What you see in a courtroom really only represents a small portion of the work they’re doing.”

Although Trump has been hinting at testifying for weeks, legal experts say it was never going to happen.

“If Trump testified, there was no assurance that he would remain on topic and not stray entirely from the script in ways that would be, at best, not helpful to the defense and, at worst, harmful to them,” according to Richard Serafini, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, criminal defense lawyer and former U.S. Justice Department prosecutor.

Krissoff concurred and added that having a defendant testify can also allow for the introduction of potentially damaging facts and information during the trial.

“They’ve calculated and determined that they’ve achieved sufficient progress,” she clarified, alluding to the legal team representing Trump. “They believe they have undermined the prosecution’s case, and they will have the opportunity to present their case next week, arguing that there is insufficient evidence to find the former president guilty.”

Legal experts stated that it was unexpected that Trump’s attorneys had called any witnesses at all.

Attorney Robert Costello, who testified on Monday and Tuesday regarding conversations he had with Cohen in 2018, following the FBI raid on Cohen’s home and office, was the principal witness for the defense. According to Costello’s testimony, Cohen informed him at the time that Trump was unaware of the $130,000 in hush money that Daniels had received.

Former Manhattan district attorney’s office prosecutor and New York criminal defense attorney Mark Bederow remarked, “I’m not sure that Costello moved the needle in favor of Trump.” However, according to him and other legal professionals, Trump’s attorneys correctly focused on Cohen’s reputation.

Cohen stated in court that Trump was fully aware of the plan to compensate Daniels. However, he also acknowledged lying to Congress and stealing thousands of dollars from Trump’s business when he was questioned by the opposition. Cohen further asserted his innocence of charges despite having entered a guilty plea to bank fraud and tax evasion in 2018. Cohen claimed that his admissions of guilt were fabrications.

Bederow stated, “His lack of credibility is just shocking, in terms of his personal bias, his financial motives, his dishonesty, and tape recording his own client, his lying and stealing from the company that he was working with.”

Former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg was one prospective witness who never ended up testifying. Some witnesses said that Weisselberg was aware of the money that was given to Cohen.

However, Weisselberg was given a five-month prison sentence last month for lying under oath when testifying in the civil fraud case that the attorney general of New York filed against Trump.

Krissoff stated, “The issue was that neither side could really call him.” “He was recently caught lying in a trial, which landed him in custody. He could not possibly be a reliable witness.

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