Trump’s Defense Rests After He Chooses Not to Testify in Hush-Money Trial – The New York Times

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Donald J. Trump’s lawyers mounted a minimal defense after prosecutors called 20 witnesses. Closing arguments will take place May 28.

The jury heard his voice, saw his tweets and watched footage of him campaigning for the presidency. But in the end, the 12 New Yorkers weighing the fate of Donald J. Trump did not see him testify.

On Tuesday, the defense rested its case after Mr. Trump declined to take the stand at his own criminal trial, forfeiting his only opportunity to defend himself but also avoiding what could have been a calamitous error. His decision made, his lawyers concluded the testimony phase of the trial, and next week, the jury is expected to begin the momentous task of determining whether the former — and perhaps future — president is a felon.

Defendants rarely testify, but Mr. Trump stands apart as the only American president to ever face a criminal trial, a serial litigant who thinks of himself as his own best advocate. Mr. Trump, who is once again the presumptive Republican nominee, had said repeatedly that he wanted to testify.

But on Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump said in front of television cameras in the courthouse hallway that his lawyers would rest without his taking the stand. The defense would offer only one significant witness, Robert J. Costello, a pugnacious lawyer whose sole task was to attack the credibility of the prosecution’s star witness, Michael D. Cohen.

“We’ll be resting pretty quickly, resting meaning ‘resting the case,’” said Mr. Trump. “I won’t be resting. I don’t rest.” The former president, who spent much of the trial with his eyes closed, added: “I’d like to rest sometimes, but I don’t get to rest.”

Prosecutors accused Mr. Trump of covering up sex scandals to pave his way to the presidency. He faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records stemming from an effort to suppress one of those scandals through a hush-money payment to a porn star, Stormy Daniels.

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