NY v. Trump: Judge Merchan to present jury with instructions ahead of deliberations

The framework a Manhattan jury will use to consider the charges against former President Trump and reach a verdict will be revealed by Judge Juan Merchan on Wednesday.  

The instructions will be issued nearly a week after they were initially set for release. It comes after weeks of speculation about the specific violations the jury will need to determine when weighing the charges of falsifying business records in the first degree against the former president. 


Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all counts. 

The jury instructions are expected to come after a full day of closing arguments were delivered by New York prosecutors and Trump defense attorneys. 

Prosecutors needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump falsified records to conceal a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic performer, in the lead-up to the 2016 election to silence her about an alleged affair with Trump in 2006. The former president has maintained his innocence.

Court will resume on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. for jury instructions. 

Defense attorneys for former President Trump told the jury Tuesday he is innocent, did not commit any crimes and that Bragg “did not meet the burden of proof. Period.” 

“President Trump is innocent. He did not commit any crimes. The district attorney did not meet the burden of proof. Period,” Blanche said. 

Blanche added that the case is “simple” and it is “not a guilty verdict.” 

“This case is about documents; it is a paper case,” Blanche said. “This case is not about an encounter with Stormy Daniels 18 years ago. It is not even about a nondisclosure agreement signed eight years ago.”

Blanche said the charges are about whether Trump “had anything” to do with payments to his ex-attorney, Michael Cohen, on his personal accounting ledger.

“The answer? The bookings were accurate and there was no intent to defraud and there was no conspiracy to influence the 2016 election,” Blanche said. “The proof doesn’t add up.”


Blanche told the jury they cannot convict Trump based on Cohen’s testimony, recalling how Trump’s ex-attorney “took the stand and then lied.”

“The records are not false and there was no intent to defraud,” he said.

Blanche said not one single invoice was sent to Trump directly and that Cohen billed Trump “for services rendered.” He also told the jury Cohen rendered services as Trump’s personal attorney in 2017.

The defense lawyer said that even if the amount of work was minimal, there was a retainer agreement, which he explained is “how retainer agreements work.” Blanche said Cohen was “on call for President Trump.”

Blanche also explained that checks to Cohen were not signed by Trump. 

“You can’t convict President Trump,” he said. “Because sometimes President Trump looked at the invoices … that is a stretch and that is reasonable doubt.”

Blanche also blasted the prosecution’s “star witness” Michael Cohen, saying “he is the human embodiment of reasonable doubt.”

“He lied to you repeatedly … he is biased and motivated,” Blanche said, adding that the jury should want a witness to tell the truth.

“Michael Cohen is the GLOAT,” Blanche said. “He is the greatest liar of all time … his words cannot be trusted … all those lies, put them to the side for just a moment, that is enough to walk away.”  

Blanche noted Cohen had lied to both Houses of Congress, federal judges, state judges and family.

“You cannot send someone to prison based upon the words of Michael Cohen,” Blanche said, adding that a verdict needs to be reached based on evidence from documents and witnesses. “If you do that, this is a very quick and easy not-guilty verdict.” 

Meanwhile, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass delivered his closing argument for more than five hours Tuesday, saying the prosecution has presented “powerful” evidence in their case against Trump. 

Steinglass said Trump’s intent to defraud “could not be any clearer,” arguing that it would have been far easier for him to pay Stormy Daniels directly. Instead, the prosecutor said, he concocted an elaborate scheme and everything he and his cohorts did was “cloaked in lies.”

“The name of the game was concealment and all roads lead inescapably to the man who benefited the most: the defendant, former President Donald Trump,” Steinglass said.

Steinglass defended the prosecution’s use of Michael Cohen as a witness, telling the jury: “I’m not asking you to feel bad for Michael Cohen. He made his bed.” 

“But you can hardly blame him for making money from the one thing he has left, which is his knowledge of the inner workings of the Trump Organization,” he said. 

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

Wrapping up his five-hour presentation, Steinglass, echoing an infamous Trump line, said: “Donald Trump can’t shoot someone on Fifth Avenue at rush hour and get away with it.” 

The comment prompted an objection from Trump’s lawyer, which was sustained.

Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

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