Prosecutor urges jury to convict Trump using ‘common sense’

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Prosecutors pleaded with jurors Tuesday to use their “common sense” and find Donald Trump guilty, as the first ever criminal trial of a former president reached its dramatic final phase.

With both sides wrapping up their closing arguments, the stage is now set for the 12-member panel to begin deliberating Wednesday.

Less than six months before an election in which Trump is seeking to return to the White House, the stakes are high both for the 77-year-old personally and for the country.

Trump is accused of falsifying business records to reimburse his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, afraid that her account of an alleged sexual encounter could doom his 2016 presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass made the last push for a guilty verdict after Trump’s defense lawyer, Todd Blanche, called for his acquittal, insisting the case against the former president was based on lies.

Steinglass said Daniels’s story about her 2006 tryst with the married Trump was the motive for the alleged crime, but the “case at its core is about a conspiracy and a cover up” on the eve of an election.

“The defendant’s intent to defraud could not be any clearer,” he said.

Blanche told the jury that Trump was innocent and the only outcome should be a “very quick and easy not guilty verdict.”

Cohen, the one-time Trump fixer who became the star prosecution witness, was motivated by “outright hatred” for his former boss, Blanche said.

“He told you a number of things on that witness stand that were lies, pure and simple,” he said.

– Election looms –

During a break before the court returned for a rare evening session on Tuesday, Trump took to social media to dismiss proceedings as “boring.”

Speaking to reporters at the start of the day, Trump called it a “very dangerous day for America.”

“We have a rigged court case that should have never been brought,” he said as three of his five children — Don Jr, Eric and Tiffany — stood behind him.

Blanche told the court that Trump did not closely inspect all the invoices that came across his desk.

But Steinglass countered that there was a mountain of corroborating evidence in addition to Cohen’s testimony.

“They want to make this case about Michael Cohen,” he said. “This case is about Donald Trump and whether he should be accountable for causing false entries in his own business records and whether he did that to cover up his own election violations.”

Polls show Trump neck and neck against President Joe Biden and the verdict will inject new tension into the White House race.

Speaking on behalf of the Biden campaign outside court, legendary actor Robert De Niro berated Trump as a “clown” intent on destroying the country.

De Niro’s unexpected press conference — against a noisy backdrop of pro-Trump protesters and car alarms — appeared to be an effort to push back against Trump’s dominance of the TV news channels.

The first former or sitting president under criminal indictment, Trump also faces charges in separate cases which include accusations he mishandled classified documents and tried to overthrow the 2020 election.

The hush money case, which featured more than 20 witnesses over five weeks and gripping testimony by Daniels and Cohen, is likely the only one to come to trial by election day.

If convicted, Trump faces up to four years in prison on each of 34 counts, but as a first-time offender he is unlikely to get jail time.

A conviction would not bar him from appearing on the ballot in November or moving back into the White House.

Trump chose not to testify in his defense.

Instead, he staged daily tirades against “corrupt” Judge Juan Merchan and claimed the trial was a Democratic Party ploy to keep him off the campaign trail.

The jury must be unanimous to return a verdict, with just one holdout leading to a mistrial.

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