Fri. May 24th, 2024

Trump perks up as testimony begins in hush money trial

By 37ci3 Apr22,2024

No one will ever accuse former President Donald Trump of being woke. But in the space of a few hours on Monday, he went from a disinterested observer – sometimes blindfolded – to a very attentive chief defendant in his own silent money trial.

Perhaps it was a chance to look the full jury in the eye, which he did when he sat in his box — against the wall to his right — and walked in and out of the courtroom. Perhaps it was David Packer, a one-time ally and co-conspirator who testified against him from a few yards away. Or, it could just be that all the talk is finally about him — after last week’s controversy over jury selection and legal issues.

Sitting in a wood-paneled courtroom designed to induce sleep, like a 1950s high school or any branch of the state Department of Motor Vehicles, Trump leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes at the start of his fifth day. test. But after Judge Juan Mercan waived rote procedural matters, including a lengthy set of instructions for jurors, Trump turned his attention to other key players in the room.

During prosecutor Matthew Colangelo’s opening statement, he stared straight ahead, deliberately refusing to look at an opponent handling the case for the jury. Colangelo claims that Trump conspired with one-time “cleaner” Michael Cohen and former tabloid publisher David Packer to prevent pornographic actress Stormi Daniels from publicly accusing him of having an affair.

“He then covered up the scheme by lying on his business records in New York,” Colangelo said, adding that the actions were “an unlawful conspiracy to undermine the integrity of the presidential election” and “conceal illegal election fraud.” .”

No one could snooze it.

With his chin between his thumb and forefinger, Merchan turned his seat toward the jury and shifted his gaze — ping-pong style — from the jurors to the prosecutor as he swayed slightly back and forth in his chair.

After Colangelo gave the floor to defense attorney Todd Blanche for his opening statement, Trump finally shifted his gaze. Trump is not just a former president or the 2024 Republican presidential nominee, Blanche said, aiming to portray her client as a peer of the jury.

“He’s a man, too,” Blanche said. “He is a husband. He is a father. He is a person like you and me.”

At times, it was unclear from the closed-circuit TV feed inside the courtroom when Trump was looking at the jurors and when he was looking at Blanche, his attorney said. Trump’s indictment did not include a jury. But in hindsight, the changing angle of his profile showed that he was dividing his time between focusing on the jury and Blanche.

For most of the day, his mouth was drawn into a familiar, serious expression that betrayed no emotion, even as his lawyer began to undermine Cohen’s credibility in front of the jury.

“I submit to you that he cannot be trusted,” Blanche said of Cohen, who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress while still in Trump’s good graces.

Blanche also countered the charge by bequeathing Cohen’s truth and Trump’s checkered history of membership in the man, father, husband and humanity clubs.

“The story that you’re hearing,” he said from prosecutors, “is, you’re going to find out, not the truth, and there’s going to be a lot of reasonable doubt at the end of this trial.” For Trump to be convicted, all 12 jurors must find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Certainly his interest was heightened on Monday, as Packer took the stand as the prosecution’s first witness. The former U.S. media executive is a central figure because prosecutors allege he agreed to help Trump by promoting bad stories about his 2016 opponents, publishing articles praising Trump and, most importantly, helping Trump silence those who tell negative stories about him.

Merchan did not understand much of Peker’s testimony before adjourning the trial for the day. Easter and the jury’s need for urgent dental work combined to force a recess.

But according to Packer’s testimony, Trump hunkered down at the defense table, spoke live with lawyer Emile Bovet and angrily scribbled notes on a piece of paper he shared with Bovet and Blanche. His whole demeanor changed within a day, and he indicated that he planned to take an active part in the trial in the future.

In the hallway of the courthouse, Trump berated the prosecutors for continuing the trial.

“This is an accounting case, which is a very small thing in terms of the law in terms of all violent crimes,” he said. “This is very unfair… I should be allowed to campaign.”

Prosecutors say the campaign — the 2016 version — got him to pay Daniels hush money and then cover it up with fabricated records.

Now the sleeping giant is awake.

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By 37ci3

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