Trump trial updates: Defense rests without Trump taking the stand

Former President Trump did not take the stand in his criminal hush money trial.

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Last updated: Tuesday, May 21, 2024 10:51PM GMT
Defense rests without Trump taking the stand
Donald Trump's lawyers rested their defense Tuesday without the former president taking the witness stand in his New York hush money criminal trial.

NEW YORK -- Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York City, where he is facing felony charges related to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. It marks the first time in history that a former U.S. president has been tried on criminal charges.

Trump last April pleaded not guilty to a 34-count indictment charging him with falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to Daniels in order to boost his electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election.

Key Headlines

Here's how the news is developing.
ByNadine El-Bawab ABCNews logo
May 20, 2024, 6:50 PM GMT

What are the potential outcomes of Trump's hush money trial?

Apr 19, 2024, 6:02 PM GMT

Who are the key players?

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May 20, 2024, 3:42 PM GMT

Cohen admits he stole money from Trump organization

Michael Cohen on Monday admitted that he stole from Donald Trump's company when he pocketed tens of thousands of dollars that was earmarked as a reimbursement for money he said he shelled out to a technology firm.

The Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen for the costs under the same arrangement as his repayment for the hush money payment he made to porn actor Stormy Daniels.

Cohen had claimed he shelled out $50,000 to the tech firm, Red Finch, but during cross-examination in Trump's criminal trial he testified that he gave a company executive just $20,000 in cash and never forked over the other $30,000 that was owed.

The Trump Organization repaid Cohen $50,000 and then doubled that payment in a practice known as "grossing up" to cover taxes he'd incur by declaring the money as income rather than a tax-free reimbursement.

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche noted that despite Cohen's guilty pleas in 2018 to federal charges including a campaign finance violation for the hush money payment and unrelated tax evasion and bank fraud crimes, he'd never been charged with stealing from Trump's company.

"Have you paid back the Trump Organization the money you stole from them?"

"No, sir," Cohen responded.

Trump, who had been slouched back in his seat with his eyes closed for much of the testimony, looked directly at the witness stand as Cohen made the admission about stealing.

Eric Trump, Trump's son, who is in court, posted on X: "This just got interesting: Michael Cohen is now admitting to stealing money from our company."

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May 20, 2024, 3:41 PM GMT

Defense asks Cohen about 2 calls with Trump

After walking Michael Cohen through the personal business dealings and Donald Trump-related responsibilities he was juggling in the leadup to the Stormy Daniels payment, defense lawyer Todd Blanche pointedly asked about two key phone calls Cohen said he had with Trump.

"You do have a specific recollection that, on those two phone calls, you just talked about the Stormy Daniels deal - that's it?" Blanche asked.

Yes, Cohen said, because it was personally important to him. He was about to shell out $130,000 from his own account to keep Daniels from selling her story publicly.

"My recollection is that I was speaking to him about Stormy Daniels because that is what he tasked me to take care of and that's what I had been working on," Cohen added.

The charges against Trump - falsifying business records - center on the way he ultimately reimbursed Cohen for the Daniels payment. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

May 20, 2024, 2:20 PM GMT

Cohen's attention was divided in the weeks before Daniels' payout

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche asked Michael Cohen a series of questions on Monday about personal business deals and other Donald Trump-related tasks that Cohen was juggling in the weeks before the Stormy Daniels payout.

Cohen testified that his attention was divided at the time by several other matters, including a real estate transaction involving an investment property he owned with his brother, a restructuring of his taxi medallion investments, securing an endorsement for Trump from one of Dr. Martin Luther King's relatives, unrelated litigation and an issue involving photographs and a potential extortion attempt of one of Trump's children.

The questions seem aimed at showing that he wasn't solely focused on the Daniels matter, despite its urgency at the time.

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May 20, 2024, 1:48 PM GMT

Michael Cohen returns to the stand

Michael Cohen has returned to the courtroom for his fourth day of testimony in Donald Trump's hush money trial. He nodded at a court officer but didn't look at the former president or the defense table as he made his way to the witness stand.

Trump turned his head and looked in Cohen's direction as he was taking the witness stand.