Trump set for Republican fundraiser in Minnesota hours after Barron’s Florida graduation: Live

Donald Trump is in Florida today for the high school graduation of his teenage son Barron Trump before later jetting out for a Republican fundraising dinner in St Paul, Minnesota.

The GOP presidential candidate’s hush money trial wrapped up for the week on Thursday after a day of heated cross-examination in which key witness Michael Cohen was grilled by defense attorney Todd Blanche.

The former “fixer” for the defendant spent the entire day on the stand in Judge Juan Merchan’s Manhattan courtroom, with much of the questioning revolving around previous occasions in which he had lied under oath.

Mr Blanche zeroed in on whether Cohen, who received tens of thousands of phone calls per year, could specifically remember what was discussed in a 90-second call in 2016.

The witness remained calm and steadfast during his testimony, walking the jury through the strategy allegedly employed by Mr Trump’s inner circle to delay making the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in October 2016 to buy her silence about the sexual encounter she claims he had with the politician in July 2006.

Judge Merchan has now asked both sides to prepare for closing arguments on Tuesday.

Alex Woodward is covering the trial from Manhattan Criminal Court.

Key Points

  • Trump to headline political fundraiser after crying off court to attend son’s high school graduation

  • Melania attends graduation after failing to show at husband’s hush money trial

  • What we know about Trump’s youngest son Barron

  • Defence attorney screams at Michael Cohen over key phone call on Stormy Daniels payment: ‘That’s a lie!’

  • The best court sketches from five weeks of Trump’s New York hush money trial

Trump and Melania attend Barron’s graduation after she failed to show at hush money trial

16:30 , Joe Sommerlad

Here’s Ariana Baio’s report on this morning’s ceremony at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach.

Trump and Melania attend Barron’s graduation together

Barron Trump pictured in cap and gown at high school graduation

16:17 , Joe Sommerlad

Here’s the youngest Trump, looking natty in his robes and mortarboard.

Barron Trump, the son of former US president Donald Trump, attends his graduation ceremony at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, on 17 May 2024 (Marco Bello/Reuters)
Barron Trump, the son of former US president Donald Trump, attends his graduation ceremony at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, on 17 May 2024 (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Boebert says sleeping Trump looks ‘pretty’

16:00 , Joe Sommerlad

Well, I’ll say this for the Colorado congresswoman – this is a new one.

“I think he’s praying, but if he is sleeping, [he] certainly looks pretty as he sleeps,” Boebert said yesterday, utterly incredibly.

“His mouth is kind of tight-lipped, so maybe it’s just a sombre moment of thought.”

Stephen Colbert takes dig at Trump over infamous inauguration photo

15:45 , Joe Sommerlad

The late-night host has poked fun at the relatively sparse crowds at Trump’s inauguration in 2017 after Michael Cohen revealed at the former president’s hush money trial that he had a hard time getting tickets for the event.

Here’s Amelia Neath’s report.

Colbert takes dig at Trump over infamous inauguration photo after Cohen testimony

In pictures: Donald and Melania Trump attend son Barron’s high school graduation ceremony in Florida

15:33 , Joe Sommerlad

Here are the first images of the Trumps at Oxbridge Academy for Barron’s big day, accompanied by the boy’s maternal grandfather Viktor Knavs.

Nice hat Melania!

Former US president Donald Trump and ex-first lady Melania Trump attend the high school graduation ceremony of their son Barron Trump at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday 17 May 2024 (Marco Bello/Reuters)
Former US president Donald Trump and ex-first lady Melania Trump attend the high school graduation ceremony of their son Barron Trump at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday 17 May 2024 (Marco Bello/Reuters)
Former president Donald Trump and ex-first lady Melania Trump attend the graduation ceremony of their son Barron Trump at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday 17 May 2024 (Marco Bello/Reuters)
Former president Donald Trump and ex-first lady Melania Trump attend the graduation ceremony of their son Barron Trump at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday 17 May 2024 (Marco Bello/Reuters)
Viktor Knavs, Melania Trump and Donald Trump attend Barron Trump’s high school graduation at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday 17 May 2024 (Marco Bello/Reuters)
Viktor Knavs, Melania Trump and Donald Trump attend Barron Trump’s high school graduation at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday 17 May 2024 (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Truth Social: Trump praises son as ‘great student, wonderful boy’ on graduation day

15:10 , Joe Sommerlad

Aw, this is almost cute.

The doting father, who last week forgot his son’s age, just posted this on Truth Social:

“Going to Barron’s High School Graduation. Great student, wonderful boy! Very exciting!!! DJT.”

Meanwhile, here’s the first picture of his motorcade arriving at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, for the ceremony.

A motorcade bearing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives for the high school graduation ceremony of his son Barron at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday 17 May 2024 (Lynne Sladky/AP)
A motorcade bearing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives for the high school graduation ceremony of his son Barron at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday 17 May 2024 (Lynne Sladky/AP)

America runs on Rudy? Bankrupt Giuliani pivots to coffee salesman

14:45 , Joe Sommerlad

After being New York City’s mayor, Trump’s lawyer and a criminal defendant, Rudy Giuliani is now trying his hand at being a coffee salesman as he grapples with bankruptcy and debt of $148m.

As proceedings in his bankruptcy case rumbled on this week, Giuliani launched “Rudy Coffee”, offering three styles of coffee beans.

The first 100 bags are signed by the former mayor, the products’ website claims, and will begin shipping in June.

Gustaf Kilander filed this report as The Independent’s New York office awaited delivery of a package to present you with a taste test.

Rudy Guiliani launches bizarre coffee brand as he grapples with crippling bankruptcy

New York hush money trial: Professional ‘line sitters’ charging hundreds for access to Trump’s proceedings

14:15 , Joe Sommerlad

Some New Yorkers are making hundreds of dollars a day by holding spaces in the queue for Trump’s hush money trial.

“The press has been hiring us for this court case. That’s $50 per hour,” says Robert Samuel, owner of Same Ole Line Dudes.

For members of the public, his team of more than 25 “line sitters” charge $25 per hour.

“We have sleeping bags and tents and tarps,” Samuel explained on a wet and rainy morning in Lower Manhattan yesterday.

You can watch our interview with him below.

Professional ‘line sitters’ charge hundreds for access to Trump trial

New York hush money trial: The best sketches from Trump’s five weeks in court

13:45 , Joe Sommerlad

With no cameras permitted inside Manhattan Criminal Court, it has been left up to the courtroom sketch artists to give life to the proceedings, with the drawings of professionals Jane Rosenberg, Elizabeth Williams and Christine Cornell capturing the key moments and helping to illustrate the many twists and turns.

Here’s a look at some of their best work.

The best courtroom sketches from Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial

Trump’s dinner with oil executives sparks inquiry by House Democrats

13:15 , Joe Sommerlad

House Democrats are investigating Trump’s alleged promise that he will undo certain all-important climate policies to please the fossil fuel sector if its denizens agree to bankroll his return to the White House.

Here’s Stuti Mishra’s report.

Donald Trump’s dinner with oil executives sparks inquiry by Democrats in Congress

Tim Scott enlists Kellyanne Conway to boost chances of becoming Trump’s veep

12:45 , Joe Sommerlad

Former 2024 Republican candidate and South Carolina senator Tim Scott is lobbying hard among Trump’s inner circle in the hope of becoming his pick for vice president.

Scott is leaning on Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, as he pushes himself as the top choice, The Daily Beast reported on Thursday.

His private lobbying effort is coupled with a very public one – Scott has hit cable news and declared in recent days that he would do “whatever it takes” for the man who worked to overturn the 2020 election and is facing 88 felony counts.

John Bowden has more.

Tim Scott turns to Kellyanne Conway to back his push to be Trump’s VP pick

Kamala Harris agrees to debate with Trump’s running mate

12:15 , Joe Sommerlad

The US vice president has agreed to take part in a veep debate with Trump’s so-far-unnamed running mate just a day after the Republican candidate and President Joe Biden agreed to two showdowns.

The Biden-Harris campaign said on Thursday that it had accepted an invitation from CBS News to take part in a VP debate either on 23 July or 13 August.

Gustaf Kilander has the story.

Kamala Harris agrees to VP debate with Trump’s running mate

‘Stand back and stand by’: Matt Gaetz invokes Trump’s infamous call to Proud Boys at trial

11:45 , Joe Sommerlad

MAGA Republican Matt Gaetz invoked Trump’s notorious – and widely condemned – call to the far-right group the Proud Boys as he showed up in court in Manhattan to support the former president at his hush money trial.

“Standing back and standing by, Mr President,” Gaetz wrote on X, along with an image of himself at the courthouse.

The phrase echoed Trump’s infamous comments on stage at one of the 2020 presidential debates against now-president Joe Biden.

Other fringe GOP goons present at court yesterday including representatives Lauren Boebert (who was booed and heckled with cries of “Beetlejuice!”), Andy Biggs, Anna Paulina Luna, Mike Waltz and Eli Crane.

Gustaf Kilander reports.

Matt Gaetz invokes Trump’s infamous call to Proud Boys at trial

New York hush money trial: Key takeaways from Day 18

11:15 , Joe Sommerlad

Here’s Alex Woodward and Ariana Baio with yesterday’s wrap.

Key takeways from day 18 of Trump’s hush money trial

New York hush money trial: Jury hears audio of Cohen celebrating Trump’s indictment

10:45 , Joe Sommerlad

Scathing audio played to the jury yesterday revealed Cohen celebrating his former boss’s indictment on criminal charges, saying “I hope he rots” in jail “for what he did to me”.

During a tense morning of cross-examination on Thursday, Todd Blanche worked hard to undermine the witness’s credibility, painting the former lawyer as a revenge-seeking liar.

The defence played audio from an October 2023 episode of Cohen’s podcast Mea Culpa, in which he excitedly says he “truly f***ing hopes” that Trump “ends up in prison”.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” he is heard to say in the clip.

Alex Woodward reports from the courthouse.

‘I hope he rots’: Trial hears audio of Michael Cohen celebrating Trump’s indictment

New York hush money trial: Trump attorney screams at Cohen over critical phone call

10:15 , Joe Sommerlad

Let’s have a quick recap of yesterday’s events in Judge Merchan’s courtroom.

Trump’s defence attorney unleashed a furious line of questions to accuse star witness Michael Cohen of lying about his testimony that he spoke to Trump after finalising a deal to pay Stormy Daniels hush money in 2016.

Todd Blanche, after spending several hours painting the former “fixer” as a serial liar, raised his voice and screamed from inside the courtroom after grilling him about a pivotal phone call that connected the former president to a conspiracy at the centre of the case.

“That’s a lie!” he fumed.

Alex Woodward watched proceedings on Thursday.

Trump attorney screams at Michael Cohen over critical phone call on Stormy Daniels

What we know about Donald Trump’s youngest son Barron

09:45 , Joe Sommerlad

Here’s a brief introduction to the young man whose high school leavers’ ceremony Trump so desperate to attend.

Barron Trump: What we know about Donald Trump’s youngest son

Trump to headline political fundraiser after crying off court to attend son’s high school graduation

09:15 , Joe Sommerlad

Somewhat outrageously, Trump is planning to headline a political fundraiser today, the very same day he demanded a break in the hush money trial so that he could attend his youngest son Barron’s high school graduation.

The Minnesota Republican Party has announced that the former president will headline its annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner event on Friday 17 May, the same day that Barron Trump graduates from Oxbridge Academy in the Sunshine State.

“We are thrilled to welcome President Trump back to Minnesota,” state GOP chairman David Hann said in a statement. “I can think of no one more fitting to join us this year than President Trump.”

The fundraiser will be held in St Paul, Minnesota, a roughly three hour and 45 minute flight from West Palm Beach, where Barron’s graduation ceremony will take place.

Here’s more from Graig Graziosi on Trump being given an inch and taking a yard.

Trump to headline Republican fundraiser on the day of Barron’s graduation

Truth Social: Trump bizarrely claims Manhattan DA wants to drop hush money case

08:48 , Joe Sommerlad

The Republican presidential candidate and criminal defendant posted no fewer than 14 quotes over night from conservative media allies, painstaking typed out, all helpfully decrying the case against him after it wrapped up for another week.

More interestingly – and bizarrely – he posed this wild claim that the “Soros backed” Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg actually never wanted to bring the hush money case against him and would rather concentrating on prosecuting violent crime in New York City, but cannot abandon it because of Judge Juan Merchan, who is in hock to “Radical Left Democrats”.

Here’s his rant in full:

“People are thinking that Soros backed D.A., Alvin Bragg, who never wanted to bring the Witch Hunt against me in the first place, is going to drop this ridiculous and very unpatriotic ‘CASE’ in order to save lots of money, and also the self respect of his once revered Office. He would then be able to focus on Violent Crime, which is running rampant and totally out of control in New York. The dilemma is, and always has been, the Trump Hating (APPOINTED IN 2009 & STILL ACTING!) Judge, Juan Merchan, who would be confronted with the problem of how he would explain this TRUMP loss, to the Radical Left Democrats, to whom he owes so much? Bring back “Justice in America.” ELECTION INTERFERENCE!!!”

The man needs a lie down.

Hush money trial: Trump asks New York’s highest court to step in over gag order

08:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Donald Trump is asking New York’s highest court to intervene in the gag order imposed on him in his hush-money trial.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump’s lawyers filed a notice of appeal to the New York Court of Appeals - the state’s top court, just a day after a lower appellate court rejected the former president’s attempt to modify the gag order.

The former president has been fighting the gag order that Justice Juan Merchan placed on him in March to prevent Mr Trump from damaging the integrity of the trial and witnesses.

Ariana Baio has the story:

Trump asks New York’s highest court to step in over hush-money trial gag order

Trump says RFK Jr ‘needs more than his name’ to be included in debate

06:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Donald Trump brutally told Robert F Kennedy Jr that he “needs more than his name” if he wants to join him and President Joe Biden on stage for the 2024 presidential debates.

On Wednesday, the presumptive Republican and Democratic presidential nominees agreed to come face-to-face on a pair of dates as they head towards a 2020 rematch this November.

Their plans – which materialised through a series of jibes at each other – rattled RFK Jr, who took issue with being left out of the events.

Joe Sommerlad has the story:

Trump says RFK Jr ‘needs more than his name’ to join him and Biden in debate

Trump reveals Barron’s college plans ahead of tomorrow’s graduation

04:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Donald Trump has revealed new details about his youngest son Barron’s college plans ahead of his high school graduation.

Previously, Mr Trump told journalist Megyn Kelly in September 2023 that Barron was “thinking about” attending the University of Pennsylvania, where Mr Trump and three of his children studied. Rumours have also indicated that Barron may attend New York University in Manhattan, where he grew up, according toThe Daily Beast.

Now it appears Barron’s plans may have changed. The former president revealed that Barron is now considering different schools compared to two months ago.

Gustaf Kilander has the details...

Trump reveals new details about Barron’s college plans ahead of graduation

Hush money trial: Michael Cohen’s ex-legal advisor accused of jury tampering

03:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Robert “Bob” Costello, former legal advisor to Michael Cohen, is being accused of jury tampering in the New York criminal trial against Donald Trump after he tried to discredit Cohen at a congressional hearing.

On Wednesday, Mr Costello testified to the House Judiciary Committee that Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and one-time fixer, has lied on the witness stand this week. He appeared at a hearing intended to “examine the use of lawfare tactics to weaponize the rule of law”.

Ariana Baio reports:

Michael Cohen’s ex-legal advisor accused of jury tampering in hush money trial

Giuliani was indicted over Arizona election interference plot. But prosecutors say they can’t find him

02:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Rudy Giuliani has been indicted for his alleged part in a 2020 election interference plot in Arizona – but prosecutors say he’s nowhere to be found.

Last month, the former New York City mayor and Donald Trump lawyer was one of 18 Trump allies and fake electors to be indicted in a sprawling case to plant fake electors to cast electoral college votes for the former president instead of President Joe Biden.

Since then, state prosecutors have spent weeks trying to serve Mr Giuliani with a summons, Richie Taylor at the Arizona attorney general’s office told CNN.

But he has proved elusive and is now the only one of the 18 who has yet to be served with a summons,

Gustaf Kilander has the story...

Rudy Giuliani was indicted in Arizona. But prosecutors say they can’t find him

Watch: Conway confident redirect will clear up call Cohen call ambiguity

01:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Mike Johnson branded Trump’s ‘prop’

01:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Congressman Jim McGovern has condemned House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson as a “prop of Donald Trump” after he attended the former president’s hush money criminal trial.

The Democrat delivered the scathing criticism after Mr Johnson skipped a House session, to instead be 200 miles north in Manhattan to attend Mr Trump’s criminal trial as Mr Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Micahel Cohen took the stand.

Mr McGovern, who’s a fellow House member, branded Mr Johnson’s presence at Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday as a “stunt”.

James Liddell reports:

Mike Johnson branded Trump’s ‘prop’ after House speaker attends hush money trial

Friday 17 May 2024 00:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Biden and Trump are ready to rumble at June debate. But it’s hardly a risk-free endeavor for either man

Friday 17 May 2024 00:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Eric Garcia writes:

Biden’s challenge, and Trump’s enthusiastic acceptance, reveal just how much both candidates need these debates in the short-term to convince an American public, weary of both men, that they are worthy of their vote.

Continue reading...

Biden and Trump are ready to rumble at June debate. But it’s hardly risk-free

Thursday 16 May 2024 23:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Sketchy characters: The best courtroom drawings from Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial

Thursday 16 May 2024 23:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial has presented us with a particularly colourful cast of characters, from the defendant himself and his hulking lawyer Todd Blanche to the pensive presiding judge Juan Merchan and the larger-than-life key witnesses David Pecker, Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen.

But with no cameras permitted inside Manhattan Criminal Court, it has been left up to the courtroom sketch artists to give life to the proceedings, with the drawings of professionals Jane Rosenberg, Elizabeth Williams and Christine Cornell capturing the key moments and helping to illustrate the many twists and turns.

Joe Sommerlad looks at some of the best of the work:

The best courtroom sketches from Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial

Cartoonist Liz Donnelly shares her view of court today

Thursday 16 May 2024 22:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Will Trump testify?

Thursday 16 May 2024 22:15 , Oliver O'Connell

As proceedings wound down today, Judge Juan Merchan instructed both sides to be prepared for closing arguments on Tuesday.

Lead defense attorney Todd Blanche told the judge he expects to conclude his cross-examination of Michael Cohen on Monday morning and the prosecution says re-direct will take approximately an hour.

That means things will then turn over to the defense if they want to make a case and call witnesses.

Donald Trump has said he will testify but he has said that before without it happening.

Blanche said there would be a quick decision regarding rebuttal witnesses (perhaps as soon as tomorrow) but we likely won’t find out whether Trump will take the stand himself until Monday. Blanche said the former president has yet to decide whether he will or not...

Thursday 16 May 2024 22:10 , Oliver O'Connell

Professional ‘line sitters’ charge hundreds for access to Trump trial

Trial hears audio of Michael Cohen celebrating Trump’s indictment: ‘I hope he rots'

Thursday 16 May 2024 22:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Alex Woodward reports from the courthouse in Lower Manhattan:

Scathing audio played at Donald Trump’s hush money trial revealed Michael Cohen celebrating his former boss’s indictment on criminal charges, saying “I hope he rots” in jail “for what he did to me”.

During a tense morning of cross-examination on Thursday, Mr Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche sought to undermine Cohen’s credibility as the prosecution’s star witness, painting the former lawyer and fixer as a revenge-seeking liar.

The defense played audio from an October 2023 episode of Cohen’s podcast Mea Culpa, in which he excitedly says he “truly f***ing hope” that Mr Trump “ends up in prison”.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” he says.

Read on...

‘I hope he rots’: Trial hears audio of Michael Cohen celebrating Trump’s indictment

Trump’s hallway remarks in brief

Thursday 16 May 2024 21:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Per the pool report:

Trump spoke for around 11 minutes, again reading off papers.

“I think it was a very interesting day, a fascinating day and it shows what a scam this whole thing is.”

He quoted at least 13 people, by my count, and dropped a couple references to Engoron and Kaplan. Spoke on electric vehicle mandate, inflation, china and Russia working together.

“I didn’t violate any law. It’s a scam.”

“That was my crime — I won an election I wasn’t supposed to win against Hilary Clinton.”

“When I announced I running again it was a hot iron again.

“These are people who were Democrats and they want to vote for Trump”

“That beautiful resolute desk in the Oval Office

“This is a witch hunt. This is prosecution without a case this is all political. This is done to damage your political opponents like a third world country would do.”

“You look at Judge Engoran you look at Judge Kaplan, it’s disgraceful.”

On Merchan saying court could go later to get the case done on time:

“We’re here early in the morning and we leave in the evening. Now the judge wants to extend the time periods so that we can get this thing done fast, before the election. It’s terrible. Nobody’s seen anything like it, that includes the civil cases too.”

“I’ve been sitting here for almost four weeks and we still have a long way to go. And I just want to thank all the lawyers involved because they’ve been really working hard. And I’m spending a lot of time and I’m spending a lot of money which is what they want. They want me to spend my time and my money.”

Watch: Unexpected Ashton Kutcher reference

Thursday 16 May 2024 21:32 , Oliver O'Connell

Thursday 16 May 2024 21:24 , Alex Woodward

So here’s what is next...

By the end of this week: Blanche will have a decision on rebuttal witnesses for the defense’s case, but they will likely be brief on the stand.

Over the weekend: Merchan will think about Bove’s arguments to expand what their expert witness can say about campaign finance laws.

Monday: Defense will have made a decision about Trump testifying. Blanche will finish his cross-examination of Cohen. Prosecutors will do re-direct, then the defense will do re-cross.

Tuesday: Closing arguments begin – maybe.

If they don’t, and the defense does want to present a case with witnesses that eat up time on the clock, then that’ll play out over next week.

Reminder: Court is off tomorrow for Barron Trump’s graduation.

Court is also off next Friday and the following Monday for Memorial Day.

Thursday 16 May 2024 21:21 , Alex Woodward

Blanche says he’ll be done with Cohen on Monday morning. There are no further prosecution witnesses.

Is there a defense case? asks Judge Merchan.

Blanche anticipates making a decision about bringing up rebuttal witnesses soon, maybe later today, but they’ll be quick.

That doesn’t include Trump, he says.

Merchan wants everyone to prepare for closing arguments on Tuesday.

What happens with Trump is basically a whole ’nother conversation.

Thursday 16 May 2024 21:15 , Alex Woodward

Having turned to his previous ruling from March, Judge Merchan said to Bove: “It sounds to me like you’re asking that you enlarge this decision quite a bit.”

In “fairness” to Bove, he’ll take some time this weekend to think over his argument, but “until you hear differently from me, my ruling has not changed.”

Smith will be limited to “general definitions and general background” on campaign finance until the judge says otherwise.

Moving on: “Let’s talk schedule.”

“I’m doing everything possible to avoid big breaks,” Merchan says. “I try not to break up summations if at all possible … The deliberations should immediately follow the jury charge.”

Thursday 16 May 2024 21:09 , Alex Woodward

Colangelo notes that the judge had already blocked the “interpretation and application of campaign finance law,” and the defense request is “way beyond” what the judge had already ruled.

“We’re not seeking to have three people at this trial instruct the jury about these issues, judge,” Bove says. “The jury has to be instructed one way or another about these principles.”

“Basic fairness” requires the jury to understand the principles of campaign finance law, according to Bove.

Thursday 16 May 2024 21:01 , Alex Woodward

Defence attorney Emil Bove is now up to discuss a potential expert witness to discuss… drumroll please… campaign finance law!

Bove wants to rely on the witness to explain the phrase “for the purpose for influencing any federal election for office” to give “an interpretation of what that phrase means.”

The expert is former FEC commissioner Bradley Smith.

Bove also wants to cover the phrase “irrespective of a candidate’s campaign”.

And Bove also wants the jury to understand the press exemption under campaign finance law, and how the press is exempt from such restrictions.

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo says Bove’s request “flies directly in the face” of the judge’s prior terms.

Thursday 16 May 2024 20:53 , Alex Woodward

We see Cohen’s attorney’s response to the FEC complaint, noting that the Trump campaign wasn’t party to the Stormy Daniels transaction, which Cohen previously testified was worded in an effort to avoid putting Trump directly on the line.

He also put out a statement saying that he didn’t want to provide any further comment, which included this: “Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr Trump.”

“I was validating the statement I had sent out with that paragraph,” he said.

He shared it with reporters because “I wanted them to believe it was true.”

“Nothing on that letter is not the truth, correct? … Is it your testimony that you were lying to your lawyers?”

No, sir.

Objection. Sustained.

Judge Merchan stops us there.

The jury is excused.

Thursday 16 May 2024 20:44 , Alex Woodward

“You never had a retainer agreement with any of those individuals, did you? … The reason why … is because you didn’t need one, right? Because you were employed by the Trump Organization, you knew you were going to get paid … you knew your salary … so you didn’t have to worry when you did personal work for Donald Trump Jr?”

Cohen agrees.

“You testified multiple times that when you were personal attorney you had no retainer agreement … but the truthful testimony is that in the whole time you worked for the Trump Organization you never had a retainer agreement, correct?”

Correct.

Cohen has testified that he did not have any retainer when he listed his reimbursement invoices, pursuant to a “retainer” that never existed. Blanche is arguing that it wasn’t just in 2017, it was the entire time he worked for Trump, personally or with the Trump Organization.

This is a point I figured would be brought up in expert witness testimony — that Cohen didn’t necessarily need to have one, per New York law.

Court back for last session of week

Thursday 16 May 2024 20:39 , Oliver O'Connell

Alex Woodward reports:

We’re into the hush money now.

Cohen says he recalls making a statement that “they were extorting Mr Trump”.

“In your mind, there were two choices: pay, or don’t pay and the story comes out … But you went a long time without paying.”

“We went several weeks without paying.”

“And ultimately, though, you did. You paid.”

Blanche notes that the NDA with Daniels is “perfectly legal”.

“A settlement, an NDA, between two parties, happens all the time, right?”

“Yes, they do.”

(That’s not what Trump is charged with, folks.)

Blanche goes on to say Cohen was working as a lawyer with the Trump Organization at the time before Prosecution attorney Susan Hoffinger cuts him off and asks to approach the bench.

Thursday 16 May 2024 20:37 , Oliver O'Connell

Update from the court: A juror has an appointment next Thursday at 1.30pm, but they’re will wait to see closer to the day if they can just replace that person with an alternate, instead of excusing everyone at 1pm — TBD.

Thursday 16 May 2024 20:36 , Oliver O'Connell

Per the pool:

“Trump waves to camera returning from break at 3:23. Did not respond to questions. A sketch artist and NY Post reporter were shooed down the hallway and into a bathroom right before he came out.”

Thursday 16 May 2024 20:26 , Oliver O'Connell

Veepstakes: Tim Scott turns to Kellyanne Conway in bid to be Trump’s running mate

Thursday 16 May 2024 20:22 , Oliver O'Connell

John Bowden reports:

Former 2024 Republican candidate and South Carolina senator, Tim Scott, is lobbying hard among Donald Trump’s inner circle in the hopes of becoming his pick for vice president.

Scott is leaning on Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, as he pushes himself as the top choice, The Daily Beast reported on Thursday.

His private lobbying effort is coupled with a very public one - Scott has hit cable news and declared in recent days that he would do “whatever it takes” for the man who worked to overturn the 2020 election and is facing 88 felony counts.

Continue reading...

Tim Scott turns to Kellyanne Conway to back his push to be Trump’s VP pick