Trump trial updates: Closing arguments concluded, jury in hush money case will begin deliberations on Wednesday

Donald Trump
Donald Trump at Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday. (Julia Nikhinson/Pool via Reuters)

After more than 10 hours in court on Tuesday hearing closing arguments, the jury in former President Donald Trump’s historic criminal trial is set to begin their deliberations. This is Yahoo News' succinct update on the criminal and civil cases against Trump. Here are the latest developments.

Lawyers for Trump and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office made their closing arguments in the historic trial in which the former president is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide a $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to conceal an alleged extramarital affair from voters. Judge Juan Merchan told the jurors that he would give them instructions Wednesday morning on how to come to a verdict in the case. "Jurors, thank you again for your patience," Merchan said.

Trump’s closing argument: Trump attorney Todd Blanche argued that prosecutors had not presented a “shred of evidence” to show that Trump falsified business records or sought to influence the 2016 presidential election when he reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Daniels.

While Blanche told jurors that Daniels had attempted to extort money from Trump he devoted the bulk of his time going after Cohen, who Blanche sought to portray as the witness the prosecution had built their case around.

“You cannot convict President Trump on any crime beyond a reasonable doubt on the words of Michael Cohen,” Blanche said, calling him “an MVP of liars.”

"He's the human embodiment of reasonable doubt," Blanche added, noting that Cohen admitted during the trial to stealing $60,000 from the Trump Organization.

As for Trump himself, Blanche portrayed him as out of the loop regarding Cohen’s plans to aid his presidential campaign by paying Daniels for her silence, saying instead that Trump was simply reimbursing Cohen for legal services rendered.

Blanche sought to convince jurors that politics had nothing to do with the payment to Daniels, and that it therefore did not rise to the level of a felony campaign finance violation.

"This isn't a referendum on your views on President Trump. This is not a referendum on the ballot box," Blanche said.

The prosecution’s closing argument: Senior trial counsel Joshua Steinglass laid out the prosecution’s closing argument that the case was about “a conspiracy and a cover-up” to keep voters from learning about the alleged sexual relationship between Trump and Daniels.

That conspiracy, Steinglass told the jury, involved other people besides Cohen.

"In this case, there’s literally a mountain of evidence of corroborating testimony that tends to connect the defendant to this crime, from Pecker to Hicks to the defendant’s own employees," Steinglass said, referencing former National Enquirer chief David Pecker and former Trump aide Hope Hicks, adding, "It’s difficult to conceive of a case with more corroboration than this one."

The plot, which included a “catch and kill” arrangement with the National Enquirer to keep negative stories about Trump from being published, Steinglass said, and it had tangible results.

“This scheme, cooked up by these men, at this time, could very well be what got President Trump elected,” Steinglass said, according to CNN.

Like Blanche, Steinglass also focused much of his closing on Cohen, openly conceding his ethical flaws.

"We didn’t choose Michael Cohen to be our witness. We didn’t pick him up at the witness store," Steinglass added. "The defendant chose Michael Cohen as his fixer because he was willing to lie and cheat on his behalf."

In a presentation that lasted more than five hours, Steinglass offered the jury a meticulous timeline of the alleged scheme, refreshing their memory of the evidence prosecutors presented. That included the responses of Trump campaign staffers to the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape, falsified documents used to open bank accounts from which Daniels was paid, phone records leading up to that payment, and notes from Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg that established a schedule for repaying Cohen. Steinglass called the Weisselberg payment schedule “the smoking guns” of the trial.

"He didn't really pay a lawyer,” Steinglass said of the reimbursements Trump made to Cohen. “He paid a porn star by funneling money through a lawyer."

"This case is not about Michael Cohen. It's about Mr. Trump and whether he should be held accountable for making false business entries in his own business records. Whether he and his staff did that to cover up election interference," Steinglass said.

“The defendant was the beneficiary of this entire scheme,” Steinglass reiterated at the end of his closing argument, the New York Times reported. “He was the one trying to get elected.”

Judge Merchan’s instructions will come Wednesday: Citing the long hours the jury spent in the courtroom on Tuesday, Merchan told the jury that he would wait until Wednesday morning to instruct them on rendering a verdict in the case. Though the day concluded without significant disruptions, Merchan did scold lawyers for the defense and the prosecution on two occasions.

After Blanche told the jury they “cannot send someone to prison” based on testimony from someone like Cohen, prosecutors objected and Merchan issued a clarification.

"That comment was improper and you must disregard it. In your deliberations, you may not discuss, consider or even speculate as to matters related to sentence or punishment," the judge told the jury.

When Steinglass was concluding his closing argument, he seemed to disregard Merchan’s instructions to let him handle jury instructions on questions of law and their verdict. After explaining the concepts of reasonable doubt and accessorial liability, Merchan sustained two defense objections, and snapped at Steinglass.

“I’ll explain the law,” the judge told him.

Court will be back in session Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET, when Merchan will give the jury their instructions and send them to render a verdict.