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May 21, 2024 11:42 AM UTC

Trump Hush Money Trial: The Defense Snoozes

  • by: Colorado Pols
Former President Trump on a courtroom snooze break.

As NBC News reports, the witness testimony phase of the criminal trial against former President Donald Trump for allegedly covering up a “hush money” payment to porn star Stormy Daniels is over, and closing arguments will get underway after the upcoming Memorial Day weekend:

Judge Merchan explains that the jury won’t return to court until next Tuesday for summations, adding that those closing arguments “will not be quick” and he expects his instructions to take at least an hour.

He said the court would have been in session today and Thursday. “There is no way that we can possibly do what needs to be done in a cohesive manner.”

The judge said he decided the best thing to do was for the jury to adjourn now and return next Tuesday. He directed the jurors to continue keeping an open mind and then he’ll give final instructions on the law. He added that he expects to potentially work next Wednesday as well.

With Trump’s adoring allies in Congress including Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado having made their exhibitions of support last week, the biggest moment of drama yesterday came as a defense witness Robert Costello engaged in some ill-advised confrontational eye contact with Judge Juan Merchan–who by this point in the trial all sides should be aware doesn’t take kindly to being bullied in his own courtroom:

The judge then asked the jury to step out of the courtroom. Once jurors left, Merchan said, “I want to discuss proper decorum in my courtroom.”

“When there’s a witness on the stand, if you don’t like my ruling, you don’t say ‘jeez,’” Merchan said to Costello. “You don’t give me a side eye and you don’t roll your eyes,” Merchan said, his voice showing his anger.

When Costello held a long glare at the judge, Merchan asked, “Are you staring me down?”

Despite indicating his desire to do so, Trump himself ultimately declined to take the witness stand himself. AP reports that the normally so talkative it’s downright contemptuous ex-President took no questions leaving the courtroom today:

Trump, the first former American president to be tried criminally, did not stop to speak as he left the courthouse and ignored a question about why he did not testify. The Republican previously said he wanted to take the witness stand to defend himself against what he claims are politically motivated charges.

Since President Trump’s first act after conviction will be to denounce the whole proceeding before filing his foregone conclusion of an appeal, there’s an argument that not letting Trump take the stand and potentially do more harm is worth more than anything he might achieve defending himself. Like the “Big Lie” itself that Trump won the 2020 presidential election, maintaining Trump’s denials of the affair with Storm Daniels while acknowledging paying her $130,000 to supposedly not have had said affair is harder to pull off under oath.

And now, America has a long holiday weekend to decide the first of Trump’s criminal cases for themselves, with the help of their MAGA uncles over for barbeque. We’ll be exited to hear how it goes in your family.


9 thoughts on “Trump Hush Money Trial: The Defense Snoozes

  1. not letting Trump take the stand and potentially do more harm is worth more than anything he might achieve defending himself

    Have you seen him at a rally lately? He can't even finish sentences and nods off like Mitch McConnell. He wouldn't have helped himself.

    1. Trump had an absolute constitutional right to take the stand, even if his lawyers didn't want him to (and they certainly didn't).  It was his decision alone not to testify, and his alone to make.  Zero surprise he didn't testify.  Surprising they called Costello.  Defense should have rested without calling a witness.  Makes me wonder if there was some deal between trump and his lawyers that if he agreed to not testify they would put on Costello at his behest.  Just speculation, but I don't see any sound strategy behind calling Costello. 

      1. Makes as much sense as anything. There was absolutely nothing for the defense to gain, they could only lose with Costello opening his mouth on the stand (not to mention making faces). 

        1. It was pretty amazing that the defense put on a witness who acted like that.  I've testified both as an expert and a lay witness numerous times, in front of good judges and less-than-good judges.  But I never did anything other than respect the decisions and rulings of the judge, no matter how wrong I thought they were.  I may not like or respect the judge outside of court, but in the courtroom, you respect the position and authority.  Costello knows better, but didn't behave.  Extraordinary.  

  2. Having seen what happened to Costello, I'm pretty certain the defense attorneys would have been able to ask Trump if he would be willing to put up with multiple days of the same treatment from prosecution attorneys and the judge.  And that trial testimony would have opened him up to MORE "meritless" trials for perjury, too.

  3. Someone setting low expectations for *rump’s sheeple: So if you pray, as you’re asking your followers to do, and he is found guilty does the burden lie with your sheep or a
    confused White Jesus? (asking for a friend)

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