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May 21, 2024, 2:59pm EDT
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Semafor Signals

Trump might be hoping for a mistrial as hush-money case winds down

Insights from Politico, CNN, and The Atlantic

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Former U.S. President Donald Trump watches as Robert Costello is cross examined by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger during Trump's criminal trial on May 21, 2024.
Jane Rosenberg/REUTERS
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The News

Donald Trump declined to testify Tuesday as his hush-money trial in New York entered its final phase. Closing arguments are expected to begin next week in the first ever criminal trial of a former US president and the only one of Trump’s four criminal cases to be prosecuted before November’s presidential election.

The prosecution’s star witness and Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen testified that Trump was directly involved in falsifying business records to reimburse him for a $130,000 payment made to keep adult film star Stormy Daniels quiet about her alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump and protect him ahead of the 2016 election. Trump faces 34 felony charges in the case.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Trump could be angling for a mistrial

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Sources:  
Politico, Semafor, The Atlantic

For Trump, a mistrial “might be nearly as good as an acquittal,” Politico wrote. The judge would be forced to declare a mistrial if the jury can’t reach a unanimous decision, and the prosecution could opt to try Trump again. But that would introduce significant delays that benefit Trump’s team, which has sought to stall his legal troubles until after the November presidential election, when Trump — if reelected — would be in an unprecedented position to terminate the federal cases against him.



Trump’s conviction hinges on Cohen’s credibility

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Source:  
CNN

Trump’s defense did score some points while cross-examining Michael Cohen, the prosecution’s primary witness whose testimony is key to the case. Cohen was always deemed a problematic witness, given that he is a disbarred attorney and a convicted perjurer, and “Trump’s lawyers need to create reasonable doubt in the minds of just one juror to open the possibility of a hung jury or an acquittal,” CNN’s political reporter Stephen Collinson wrote. However, that seems unlikely, CNN’s legal analyst Norman Eisen argued, and the case is still the prosecution’s to lose.

Trump trial is a mini Republican National Convention

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Sources:  
MSNBC, CNN, Semafor

This criminal trial has become “a miniature version of the Republican National Convention,” MSNBC columnist Hayes Brown wrote, “providing a venue for GOP elites and wannabes alike to share Trump’s spotlight in hope of currying his favor.” As of Monday, more than 30 Republicans, including vice presidential hopefuls like North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, as well as House Speaker Mike Johnson — had made the trek to Manhattan to stand by Trump. Their attendance doesn’t just prove loyalty to a potential president; they’re also there to criticize the people Trump’s gag order bars him from talking about and to undermine the integrity of the case.

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