Trump before closing arguments in hush money trial: “Dark day for America”

Former US President Donald Trump has described the beginning of the final phase of his historic hush money trial as a “dark day for America”. It is a “rigged” case that should never have been brought to trial, Trump said on Tuesday before entering the courtroom in the New York borough of Manhattan. He also spoke of a “very dangerous” and “very sad day” for the country.

In the first criminal trial in history against a former US president, the closing arguments of the defense and prosecution are to be held on Tuesday. The deliberations of the twelve jurors are expected to begin on Wednesday.

The likely Republican presidential candidate is accused in the case of falsifying business documents to cover up a hush money payment to former porn actress Stormy Daniels. The payment was made before the 2016 election to persuade Stormy Daniels to conceal an alleged sex affair that she claims to have had with Trump and which Trump denies.

The hush money of $130,000 (about €120,000 today) was transferred by Trump's then-lawyer Michael Cohen. As a key witness for the prosecution in the trial, Cohen testified that he had paid the hush money with Trump's consent. Cohen was later reimbursed the money by the Trump corporation; according to the prosecution, the repayments were falsely declared as legal fees.

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records. The prosecution also sees the hush money payment as an illegal interference in the 2016 presidential election.

If the jury finds the 77-year-old former president guilty, the judge would determine the sentence at a later date. A prison sentence is possible, but experts expect a suspended sentence or a fine. Trump describes the trial as a political maneuver designed to undermine his election campaign against President Joe Biden.