Defense Rests Despite Trump Saying He’d ‘Absolutely’ Testify

Michael M Santiago/Getty Images
Michael M Santiago/Getty Images

Soon after he was indicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records over attempts to conceal a $130,000 payoff to a porn star, Donald Trump insisted he’d be absolutely delighted to take the stand at his criminal hush-money trial.

“Yeah I would testify, absolutely,” Trump said in April. “I’m testifying. I tell the truth. All I can do is tell the truth.”

Earlier this month, the former president told reporters he would “probably” testify.

On Tuesday, Trump’s attorneys rested their defense. Their client, the first American president to be tried criminally, never testified.

Criminal defendants who choose to testify open themselves up to cross-examination by prosecutors, which can often lead to disastrous results for the person on trial. And if Trump had gotten caught in a lie, he would have exposed himself to a perjury charge. (Former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg is presently doing five months at Rikers Island for perjuring himself at Trump’s recent civil fraud trial.) When Trump took the stand during those proceedings, he lost his cool and began sniping at the judge about the “terrible” things that had been done to him. Trump’s testimony in that instance did not help him—he was found liable and ordered to pay a $355 million penalty.

When lead defense attorney Todd Blanche told New York State Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan on Tuesday that he had wrapped his case, the jury was dismissed and told to return on May 28, when closing arguments are scheduled to begin.

MAGA Lawyer Gets Dismantled by His Own Damning Trump Emails

On his way out, Trump, who rarely missed an opportunity during the past several weeks to address the media scrum outside Courtroom 1530, stayed silent and did not respond to a reporter’s shouted question about why he didn’t testify. However, at an impromptu press conference outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, Trump’s adult son Don Jr. insisted there was never any upside for his father to testify in his own defense.

“There’d be absolutely no reason, no justification to do that whatsoever,” the 46-year-old said. “Everyone sees it for the sham that it is.”

The charges stem from a payoff Trump allegedly directed his ex-lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, to adult actress Stormy Daniels, who said she had an extramarital affair with the then-candidate. Prosecutors say Trump agreed to buy Daniels’ silence so as not to harm his chances of winning the White House in the approaching 2016 election. He has pleaded not guilty and has denied sleeping with Daniels.

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