Jury reaches verdict in Donald Trump hush money trial

Jurors in Donald Trump’s historic criminal trial have a verdict, Judge Merchan says.

Mr Trump was found guilty, making him the first former US president to be convicted of a crime.

The BBC previously reported that Trump appeared calm but less than happy as he sat in his chair at the defense table.

“Let there be no fallout,” Judge Merchan said before ruling.

Mr Trump was charged with 34 counts of fraud by falsifying business records to conceal payments of $US200,000 ($130,000) to porn star Stormy Daniels.

It is alleged that Mr Trump wanted to buy her silence about the alleged extramarital affair, which was at risk of becoming public knowledge before the 2016 US presidential election.

Key claims from Trump's trial closing arguments

Paying to suppress stories is not illegal, but falsifying business records is.

Prosecutors tried to convince the jury that the payments were actually election interference, a more serious crime.

Mr Trump, 77, has denied having sex with Ms Daniels and has denied all allegations.

The jury began deliberations on Tuesday, May 29.

The former president spent much of the trial railing against what he perceived as injustice, but he was also angered by the temperature in the Manhattan courtroom, which he has repeatedly commented on.

Judge Juan Merchan barred Mr Trump from defaming witnesses or jurors because there were concerns it could disrupt the trial.

In early May, Judge Merchan said Mr Trump had breached the order nine times and fined him $US13,856 ($9,000), warning he could go to jail if he continued to ignore the order.

‘I’m not a bank’

The three main witnesses called by the prosecution team were Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen, Ms. Daniels and the publisher of the tabloid. National Enquirer David Pecker.

Mr. Pecker testified about the “catch and kill” scheme that went through National Enquirerthe parent company where stories damaging to Mr. Trump were bought and then unpublished before the election.

But Mr. Pecker said he hesitated to pay for another story — the one about Ms. Daniels’ alleged sex.

“I’m not a bank,” he told the court.

However, he was also concerned that large retailers who distribute National Enquirer would take down the magazine if they found out they were in a relationship with an adult entertainer.

The defense emphasized that buying stories is not illegal.

A ‘brief’ sexual encounter

Ms. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she met Mr. Trump when the adult film company she worked for sponsored a July 2006 golf tournament at Lake Tahoe, California.

She was encouraged to meet with Mr Trump at his suite.

The actor said that at one point she went to the bathroom and when she returned, Mr. Trump was on the bed in boxers and a T-shirt.

“The intent was pretty clear,” she told the jury.

Daniels said the alleged sex with Mr Trump was “brief” and that he was not wearing a condom, which was “concerning”.

The defense tried to discredit the testimony of Ms. Daniel, who argued that the porn star would not have been surprised to see a half-naked man on the bed.

“If I came out of the bathroom and saw an older man in his underwear that I didn’t expect there, yes (I would be surprised),” she replied.

She was also accused of lying about having sex with Mr Trump in order to profit from it.

“No one would ever want to say that publicly,” she retorted.

The star testifies to the ‘liar’

The key witness was Michael Cohen. He testified that with National Enquirer because he refused to pay Stormy Daniels and because the Trump Organization was slow with money, he was forced to pay Ms. Daniels $200,000 out of his own funds to hush up her story as the election neared.

He claimed to have had a phone call with Mr Trump who approved the money transfer.

“He didn’t mean Melania,” Mr. Cohen claimed of the porn star’s alleged payment.

“It was all because of the campaign.”

Mr. Cohen then claimed that the money he later received as then-President Trump’s personal lawyer included a portion that was actually reimbursement for money he gave to Ms. Daniels.

Trump’s defense team urged the jury to ignore Mr. Cohen’s testimony, calling him a “liar” and repeatedly pointing out that he had been in prison.

However, Mr. Cohen was sentenced to prison for violating campaign finance laws in another case involving Mr. Trump.

The defense also questioned Mr. Cohen’s alleged call to Mr. Trump, suggesting that the brief call — which was not to Mr. Trump’s phone — was a different matter altogether.

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