TRUMP TRIAL UPDATE: Final Phase Entered; Judge Juan Merchan to Issue Jury Instructions

The trial of former President Donald Trump is set to reach its final phase on Monday, as the prosecution’s beleaguered “star witness” Michael Cohen gets ready to testify for the last time.

Last week, Trump’s defense team banged up Cohen’s credibility by casting doubt on whether the former fixer actually spoke to Trump on the night of October 26, 2017, as he had previously stated.

Cohen asserted that during the call, Trump had given the green light to a hush-money agreement with Stormy Daniels. However, Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche presented evidence showing that Cohen had talked with Trump’s bodyguard that evening regarding a prank call from a 14-year-old.

Once the defense concludes its cross-examination of Cohen on Monday, both the prosecution and defense will have a chance to question Cohen again, but the prosecution is expected to rest. While the defense might opt to call additional witnesses or potentially have Trump testify, such a move isn’t anticipated. The defense could conclude its case as early as this week. Closing arguments might be presented as soon as Tuesday.

Another pivotal moment in the trial could come when Judge Juan Merchan provides instructions to the jury on how to evaluate the charges, a move that could support the prosecution.

Both sides will supply proposed instructions, but Merchan will determine the exact wording of the instructions. Merchan could adopt suggestions, use a standardized version, or write them himself. Those instructions will be “a critical part of the jury’s effort to understand the logic of the prosecution’s case,” according to the Washington Post.

Defense attorney and former federal prosecutor in Chicago, Renato Mariotti, informed the Post, “Jury instructions do have an outsized impact on a trial.”

“Trials are won and lost in the word of specific jury instructions,” he said.

Marc F. Scholl, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, told the New York Times, “The judge’s instructions provide a road map to the jurors.”

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By Hunter Fielding
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