Live updates from the Trump trial: ‘President Trump is innocent,’ the lawyer says in closing

(NEW YORK) – Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York City, where he faces felony charges in connection with a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. It is the first time in history that a former US president has been tried on criminal charges.

Trump pleaded not guilty last April to a 34-count indictment accusing him of falsifying company records in connection with a hush-money payment his then-lawyer Michael Cohen made to Daniels to boost his electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election.

This is how the news is developing:

May 28, 9:55 am
Defense attacks Michael Cohen’s credibility

“It’s a paper case,” said attorney Todd Blanche. “This case is not about an encounter with Stormy Daniels 18 years ago. An encounter occurred that President Trump has unequivocally and repeatedly denied. It’s not even about a settlement in 2016.”

“The bookings were correct. And there was absolutely no intention to commit fraud,” he said. “And furthermore, there was no conspiracy to influence the 2016 elections.”

Blanche starts a PowerPoint showing the evidence and quickly tries to turn the case into a referendum on Michael Cohen’s credibility, telling the jurors that he lied on the witness stand.

“You cannot convict President Trump of any crime beyond a reasonable doubt based on the words of Michael Cohen,” Blanche said.

“He told you a number of things on that witness stand that were lies pure and simple,” Blanche continued.

“The words Michael Cohen said to you on that stage – they matter. He took an oath, he swore to tell the truth, and he told you on that witness stand some things that were lies pure and simple,” Blanche said.

May 28, 9:47 am
“President Trump is innocent,” the lawyer says

“I’m going to start with something that I can say I’m thinking about with confidence… and that’s just to say thank you. To thank you for your jury service, defense attorney Todd Blanche told jurors to begin his closing argument.

“Each of you will decide … whether President Trump is guilty or not,” he said.

All eyes in this courtroom are on Blanche. Every member of Trump’s family is watching him. The judges stare at him, many with pens in their hands, ready to take notes.

“President Trump is innocent,” Blanche said. “He committed no crimes and the prosecutor did not meet his burden of proof. Period of time.”

May 28, 9:40 am
Defense closures will take approximately 2.5 hours

Attorney Todd Blanche says he has a 2.5 hour closing, “maybe a little longer.”

Prosecutors say they estimate there will be a closure of 4 to 4.5 hours.

“Counsel must come forward first, and the prosecutor must follow,” Judge Merchan said.

Merchan says he will ask the jury if they want to work later than 4:30 p.m. to do all the closings in one day.

May 28, 9:34 am
Procedure in progress

Judge Juan Merchan has taken his seat on the bench.

“Good morning, counselor. Good morning, Mr. Trump,” Merchan said in his normal greeting to begin the proceedings.

May 28, 9:29 am
Trump enters the courtroom with a number of family members

Donald Trump entered the courtroom with his lawyers.

Don Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Lara Trump and Tiffany Trump followed the former president and took their seats in the stands directly behind the defense table.

Today marks the first time Tiffany Trump has attended the trial, and it’s the largest display of Trump family members in one day of the trial.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is also in court today, sits behind his accuser.

May 28, 9:20 am
Prosecutors, Trump arrives

Prosecutors have entered the courtroom, with Joshua Steinglass, Matthew Colangelo and Susan Hoffinger behind the counsel table.

Former President Trump has arrived at the courthouse.

May 28, 9:01 am
Courtroom filled to the brim

The courtroom is packed to the rafters this morning with more than sixty reporters crammed into the wooden benches of the gallery.

More than 150 members of the press and public lined up outside the courthouse this morning to compete for access. The line turned out to be the longest of the entire test.

The courtroom itself is a balmy 76 degrees this morning, after weeks of frigid temperatures that prompted Trump to complain about being in the cold conditions.

May 28, 8:32 am
Sons and daughter are expected to appear in court with Trump

Former President Trump is expected to be joined in court by several of his children on today’s critical day.

According to the Trump campaign, Trump will be accompanied by his sons Eric and Don Jr., his daughter-in-law Lara Trump and – for the first time – his daughter Tiffany.

It would be the biggest family show for Trump since the criminal trial began six weeks ago.

May 28, 6:56 am
Jury hears closing arguments

After five weeks of testimony, jurors in former President Trump’s hush money case will hear closing arguments today.

Prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and lawyers for Trump will both make closing statements.

Judge Juan Merchan is then expected to give instructions to the jury on Wednesday, after which jurors will begin deliberating.

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