BREAKING: Defense Rests in Trump Trial—Maybe Now DA Will Reveal What the Crime Is

News & Politics

Donald Trump’s lawyers rested their case on Tuesday in the bookkeeping trial in Manhattan without him taking the stand. But there’s still a way to go before the jury gets the case. 

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Judge Juan Merchan told jurors to come back in one week for closing arguments. During the lag time, lawyers will haggle over jury instructions, the most important step before jurors get the case. Judge Merchan denied a defense motion to hear an expert witness on campaign finance issues. Thus, Michael Cohen, who provably lied (again) on the witness stand is the only witness besides adult movie copulator Stormy Daniels, who has opined about what appears to be the underlying legal theory of the bizarre case.

The upside is that maybe now District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prosecutors and his hand-picked lawyer from Main Justice will finally reveal to the jury what crime has been committed here.

Legal watchers, gobsmacked that this case was brought at all, have marveled at how it has been able to proceed without ever charging the crime that magically turned the overcharged 34 misdemeanors into felonies. The only ones who know what turned this “Mr. Potato Head” case, as Congressman Matt Gaetz called it, into a crime are the judge, the DA, the number three guy at the Department of Justice who was sent to Get Trump, and the prosecutor who literally wrote the lawfare book to have this zombie case reanimated. Since the actual crime has never been charged, the defense has had to play whack-a-mole with cross-examinations, in hopes the five-woman, seven-man jury eventually understands that there’s no crime here. 

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Ordinarily, prosecutors would put on a rebuttal case, but they told Judge Merchan they had no more witnesses to present. 

The defense ended its case with attorney Bob Costello, who was Michael Cohen’s former attorney. Costello testified that Cohen, who signed an attorney-client waiver, had lied about information he claimed to have about Trump and continued to lie during the trial. Cohen previously told Costello that he had nothing to offer prosecutors about Trump because Trump hadn’t done anything illegal. Now, in this case, the serial perjurer changed his story. Cohen tried to tie the 2016 election to Trump’s knowledge of the nondisclosure payment to Stormy Daniels to stop talking about her claimed tryst with the billionaire in 2006 so he could steal the election. No, really. 

In Monday’s testimony, which continued Tuesday, Costello was ordered by Merchan to stop mumbling after he rules on objections. The judge cleared the courtroom to lecture the former federal prosecutor and top defense attorney to stop “rolling his eyes” at Merchan. Costello denied he’d done it. 

This case has been a goat rodeo from day one. The prosecution was turned down by the Department of Justice, the Federal Elections Commission, the former Manhattan District Attorney, and even the current DA, Alvin Bragg. But the lawfare crowd, led by his now-office manager, Mark Pomerantz, who wrote a book about how to conduct the case, and Matthew Colangelo from Main Justice, parachuted in to convince Bragg to prosecute it. In an upcoming piece, I’ll tell you how Bragg’s choice to bring it may result in his disbarment. 

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Related: Trump’s Long-Time Nemesis Sends Love Notes to Michael Cohen During His Testimony

If the case has been left intentionally murky, the objective has never been clearer. This trial has been weaponized to keep Donald Trump, Joe Biden’s chief opponent in the 2024 election, on the sidelines, stuck in a New York courtroom since April 15, and ordered not to talk about the players in this lawfare drama. Trump is still fighting the gag order, which his team contends is unconstitutional. Trump’s lawyers have again asked for a dismissal and/or mistrial in this one-sided spectacle. Merchan has indicated he won’t issue a ruling on that until after the jury issues a verdict on the charges.

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