Trump trial updates: Defense attorneys rest their case without Trump’s testimony

Closing arguments are set to begin next week.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump speaks to the media outside Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday. (Mark Peterson/Pool via Getty Images)

The defense and prosecution have rested their cases, the jury has been dismissed for the week and closing arguments are set for next Tuesday. This is Yahoo News’ succinct update on the criminal and civil cases against Trump. Here are the latest developments.

🚨 What happened today

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger resumed cross-examination of Robert Costello, a lawyer who had advised Michael Cohen (Trump’s former lawyer and so-called fixer). Costello was reprimanded by Judge Juan Merchan on Monday for his disrespectful behavior on the witness stand.

The prosecution on Tuesday sought to undercut Costello’s previous testimony that he was only serving Cohen’s best interest — not Trump’s — in 2018 after news of the Stormy Daniels hush money deal came out.

Cohen previously testified he suspected Costello — whom he said was close with Trump’s then-lawyer Rudy Giuliani — only contacted him in 2018 to make sure he wouldn’t turn on Trump and cooperate with prosecutors at that time. Cohen testified he never had a retainer agreement with Costello, nor did he pay him for any legal services.

On Tuesday the prosecution displayed a series of Costello’s emails that aimed to show that he was manipulating Cohen at the direction of Trump’s then-lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Trump.

The defense rested its case after calling two witnesses. Trump did not testify, despite saying he would be willing to take the stand. The jury was then dismissed for the week.

Merchan then met with attorneys from the defense and prosecution Tuesday afternoon to review what can be included in the jury instructions, which affects how the jury will reach its verdict.

Prosecutors have charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records as felony charges because they claim those documents were used to conceal a second crime. That crime, the prosecution charges, is covering up the alleged reimbursement payments to Cohen as legal fees to suppress negative information to protect his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges and denies having an affair with Daniels in 2006.

🔬Zoom in

Costello’s emails: An email that Costello wrote to Cohen was entered into evidence by the prosecution in an effort to show the pressure campaign that they say he, Giuliani and Trump were putting on Cohen to discourage him from working with federal investigators after the hush money story broke.

“You are making a very big mistake if you believe the stories these ‘journalists’ are writing about you,” Costello wrote in the email, according to NBC News. “They want you to cave. They want you to fail. They do not want you to persevere and succeed. If you really believe you are not being supported properly by your former boss, then you should make your opinion known.”

The prosecution says another email between Costello and his law partner from May 2018 shows that Costello was not acting in Cohen’s best interest, but rather Trump’s. “Our issue is to get Cohen on the right page without giving him the appearance that we are following instruction from Giuliani or the president,” the email read, according to CNN. “In my opinion, this is the clear correct strategy.”

Jury instructions: Known as a “charge conference,” the judge met with lawyers for the defense and prosecution Tuesday afternoon without the jury present to parse through what jurors should be advised before they begin deliberations. It’s often a complex, “in the weeds” process. The New York Times reported, for example, that it took about five minutes for all parties to decide whether to pluralize the word “crime.”

The judge will deliver these instructions to the jury next week after closing arguments.

Trump’s courthouse posse: Throughout the hush money trial, Trump’s allies have shown up at the Manhattan courthouse in a show of support for him. On Tuesday, Trump’s son Don Jr. attended the trial for the first time. Eric Trump has been the only other family member who has made an appearance at the trial. Trump’s entourage on Tuesday included former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, Sen. Eric Schmitt, Reps. Daniel Webster, Dan Meuser, Ronny Jackson, Troy Nehls, Dale Strong and Maria Salazar. His former aide Sebastian Gorka, former leader of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang in New York Chuck Zito, actor Joe Piscopo, and businessman Bill White were also in attendance at the Manhattan courthouse.

🗓 What’s next?

Now that the defense and prosecution have rested their cases, Merchan said the best thing to do was let the jury adjourn and return next Tuesday, May 28, when closing arguments will begin, according to NBC News. It’s possible the jury may reach a verdict by the end of next week.

  • Merchan reserves judgment on several decisions about jury instruction language

    During the charge conference, Judge Juan Merchan reserved judgment on several requests by both sides regarding language lawyers want either included or removed from jury instructions. It's unclear when Merchan plans to rule on them.

  • Donald Trump sits at the defense table.
    Former President Donald Trump sits at the defense table in Manhattan criminal court before the start of his hush money trial Tuesday. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool via Getty Images)

    "We’ll be resting pretty quickly, meaning resting the case. I won’t be resting. I don’t rest. I’d like to rest sometimes, but I don’t get to rest."

    — Trump to reporters after arriving at the courthouse Tuesday, hours before his defense attorneys concluded presenting their case

  • The 'charge conference' is underway

    Judge Juan Merchan convened with lawyers for both sides for a "charge conference" to go over the instructions Merchan will give the jury next week before deliberations can begin.

    The jury was sent home by Merchan after the defense rested its case earlier Tuesday and is not due back until next Tuesday, when closing arguments are scheduled to begin.

  • Trump says he didn't want to testify because of the gag order

    After returning to the courthouse for a hearing on jury instructions, former President Donald Trump told reporters that he decided not to testify in his own defense because of the gag order preventing him from attacking witnesses and court staff.

    "I'm not allowed to say what I'd like to really say, you'd be very impressed, but I'm gagged," Trump explained. "So why would I take the chance?"

    He did not answer a shouted question about whether he was nervous about a conviction.

  • What Donald Trump Jr. said outside the courthouse

    Donald Trump Jr.
    Donald Trump Jr. speaks to reporters outside the courthouse at his father's criminal hush money trial Tuesday. (Charly Triballeau/Pool via Getty Images)

    Speaking outside the courthouse at his father's criminal hush money trial Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. railed against the case — and criticized reporters for not standing up for the former president.

    "What's going on here is an absolute farce, and anyone in America should be embarrassed at the absolute miscarriage of justice," Trump Jr. told reporters. "If this was going on right now in a third world banana republic there would be people screaming about it. You people would be screaming about it. The media, instead, because I presume you're fine with whatever the results are as long as it's against Donald Trump — your silence is deafening."

  • Trump's hush money trial: By the numbers

    Former President Donald Trump sits inside the courtroom awaiting the start of his criminal hush money trial on Tuesday.  (Michael M. Santiago/Pool via Getty Images)
    Former President Donald Trump sits inside the courtroom awaiting the start of his criminal hush money trial on Tuesday. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool via Getty Images)
    • Total days of testimony: 20

    • Witnesses called by the prosecution: 20

    • Witnesses called by the defense: 2

    • Days Stormy Daniels spent on the witness stand: 2

    • Hours Stormy Daniels spent on the witness stand: 7.5

    • Days Michael Cohen spent on the witness stand: 4

    • Hours Michael Cohen spent on the witness stand: 17

    • Amount of money Cohen admitted stealing from the Trump Organization: $30,000

    • Number of times Trump was found in contempt for violating the gag order: 10

    • Amount of money Trump was fined for those violations: $10,000

  • What happens next

    • Closing arguments are set for Tuesday, May 28.

    • The jury was excused by Judge Juan Merchan until Tuesday. "Thank you, I'll see you in a week," Merchan told the panel.

    • The judge will meet with lawyers from both sides this afternoon at 2:15 p.m. ET to discuss the charging instructions.

    • Following closing arguments, Merchan said he expects jury deliberations to begin "hopefully at some point on Wednesday" of next week.

  • Trump leaves courtroom without comment

    Trump departed the courtroom after his historic hush money trial adjourned, throwing up a fist pump without comment as he walked past cameras in the hallway.

  • Defense rests its case without calling Trump to the witness stand

    Defense attorneys for Donald Trump finished questioning their last witness, attorney Robert Costello, and rested their case without calling the former president to testify.

  • Costello calls suggestion that he was trying to intimidate Cohen 'ridiculous'

    Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger questioned Robert Costello, Cohen's former legal adviser, about testimony he provided to Congress last week, asking if it was an attempt to intimidate Cohen.

    "That’s ridiculous, no," Costello answered.

    Costello also told Hoffinger that he does not have animosity toward Cohen but doesn't think he's telling the truth.

  • Don Jr. is in court to support Trump

    Donald Trump Jr. watches as his father speaks to reporters after arriving at Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday. (Curtis Means/Pool via Getty Images)
    Donald Trump Jr. watches as his father speaks to reporters after arriving at Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday. (Curtis Means/Pool via Getty Images)

    Donald Trump Jr. was among those in his father's court entourage on Tuesday — the first time the former president's eldest son has appeared at his criminal hush money trial. Eric Trump has appeared at the trial numerous times. Trump's other children have not.

    Also in court to support Trump today: Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, current Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s former White House adviser.

  • Prosecutor shows evidence of Costello touting his Giuliani connection in emails to Cohen

    With lawyer Robert Costello back on the witness stand, the jury was shown a series of emails from April 19, 2018, in which Costello, who once advised Michael Cohen, repeatedly mentioned Rudy Giuliani, who would become Trump's personal lawyer while he served as president. In his earlier testimony, Cohen said that Costello had advised him against speaking to Trump directly, offering to provide a back channel to the then president through Giuliani.

    "I am sure you saw the news that Rudy is joining the Trump legal team. I told you my relationship with Rudy which could be very very useful for you," Costello wrote in an email to Cohen, according to CNN.

    Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger also presented Costello with another email he sent to Jeff Citron, Costello's partner, on the same day saying, "All the more reason for Cohen to hire me because of my connection to Giuliani, which I mentioned to him in our meeting."

    "That was your email, correct?" Hoffinger asked.

    "Correct," Costello replied.

  • What Trump said when he arrived at the courthouse

    Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool via Getty Images)
    Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool via Getty Images)

    Speaking to reporters after arriving at Manhattan criminal court for day 20 of his hush money trial, former President Donald Trump repeated his attacks against presiding Judge Juan Merchan and the three other criminal cases he is facing, in what he described as "kangaroo courts."

    He also complained, as he has throughout the trial, about the temperature inside the courtroom.

    "It's not that I like doing this sitting in an ice box all day for seven, eight, nine hours," Trump said. "It's a very cold room, I will tell you that. But I'm doing this because our country needs it."

  • Court is in session

    Day 20 of Trump's hush money trial begins with Cohen's former legal adviser Robert Costello back on the witness stand.

  • What to expect in court today

    • Former President Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial is set to resume at 9:30 a.m. ET.

    • The defense is expected to rest its case today, a day after the prosecution finished theirs.

    • It's unclear whether Trump will testify in his own defense.

    • Closing arguments are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, May 28.