Truth-Challenged Trump Refuses to Testify in His Hush Money Trial

Dear Commons Community,

Donald Trump refused to testify in his own defense yesterday in his hush-money trial.  This was no surprise given that Trump is incapable of telling the truth about anything. Here is an analysis of his decision courtesy of The Huffington Post.

Making Mexico pay for a border wall, creating a “big, beautiful healthcare plan” to replace Obamacare, balancing the federal budget and avoiding Minnesota if he lost the 2020 election have new company on the lengthy list of broken Donald Trump promises: his vow to testify in his New York City hush money trial.

Despite repeated pledges to take the witness stand to proclaim his innocence, Trump had his lawyers rest their case yesterday after calling only two witnesses, neither of them the coup-attempting former president.

Trump refused to answer shouted questions as to why he didn’t testify as he left the lower Manhattan courtroom after the brief morning session. In recent months, he has on many occasions said he was eager to tell his side of the story in the business records falsification case that could send him to prison for as long as four years.

“Yeah, I would testify, absolutely,” he told reporters just three days before the trial began five weeks ago. “I’m testifying. I tell the truth, I mean, all I can do is tell the truth.”

Even his lawyers suggested it was possible Trump could testify — last week, Todd Blanche told Judge Juan Merchan it was a decision that had not yet been made — before essentially admitting Monday in open court that it would not happen.

Legal experts and observers, of course, said they were not in the least surprised that testimony ended without hearing from Trump.

“He was never going to testify,” said Ty Cobb, a former top lawyer in the White House when it was under Trump and who is now a Trump critic.

“If he had taken the stand, they would have cross-examined him for three days with every lie he has told about E. Jean Carroll, maybe January 6th, the classified documents, Stormy ― does Stormy, a … porn star, pole dancer really remind you of your own daughter ― McDougal, his real estate tax fraud cases, his taxes and more to show he is a darker version of Michael Cohen.”

Cohen is Trump’s former lawyer and fixer who ended up in prison in part because of his involvement in a payoff to Stormy Daniels. Daniels is the adult film actor and director who testified she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 and received $130,000 from Cohen to remain quiet about it in the days leading up to the 2016 election. McDougal is the former Playboy model who received $150,000 from American Media Inc. not to reveal the affair she claimed she had with Trump. Carroll is the writer whom Trump owes $88 million to after a federal jury found he sexually abused her and then defamed her.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to all 34 counts against him and denied having had sex with either Daniels or McDougal.

Cobb said that had he been the prosecutor doing Trump’s cross-examination, he would not only have poked holes in Trump’s version of what happened but also made sure the jury understood what a prodigious liar Trump is.

“Credibility is always relevant and no one is more exposed on that point than Trump,” Cobb said.

“It would have been glorious. Alternating gusts of incoherence, egoism, anger, insolence and prevarication,” said Mac Stipanovich, a lawyer and longtime Republican political consultant in Florida. He added that he would have had a field day as the prosecutor doing Trump’s cross-examination.

“I would have goaded him about the tawdry details of the Stormy Daniels encounter, his business practices, his relationship with Cohen, and then just stepped back and let him go,” Stipanovich said. “Whenever he slowed down, I would goad him again.”

An informal adviser to Trump said the feeling that Cohen did poorly under cross-examination last week led to Trump’s ultimate decision not to take the stand.

“I think he really wanted to until Cohen crashed,” the adviser said on condition of anonymity.

The adviser also conceded it would not have been in Trump’s best interests, saying, “It would have been crazy for him to.”

One former Trump White House lawyer with experience practicing criminal law who remains sympathetic to Trump agreed that having a defendant testify is always risky — particularly one as undisciplined as Trump.

“A big risk,” he said on condition of anonymity, explaining that even a small misstep can lead to answering all kinds of damaging questions on cross-examination. “You say the wrong thing or say it in the wrong way, and the prosecution can say, ‘Judge, he opened the door.’”

The prosecution in Trump’s case wrapped up on Monday afternoon. Trump’s defense finished Tuesday morning, and Merchan spent the afternoon working with both sides to hash out what instructions he would give to the jury. Closing arguments are scheduled to take place on May 28, the day after the long Memorial Day weekend.

If Trump winds up regretting his decision not to testify, though, he may have at least three more chances to do so in other trials.

Trump is facing federal charges in Washington, D.C., based on his actions leading up to his Jan. 6 coup attempt and in South Florida for his refusal to turn over top secret documents he took with him to his Palm Beach country club upon leaving the White House.

He also faces felony charges in Georgia for his attempts to overturn his election loss there.

If convicted in any of the other jurisdictions on these charges, he could receive decades in prison.


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