Trump trial live updates: Trump not expected to testify, sources say, as defense looks to rest its case

Written by on May 21, 2024

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(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.

Here’s how the news is developing:

May 21, 9:54 AM
Costello email discussed getting ‘Cohen on the right page’

Prosecutors displayed an email from Robert Costello to his law partner Jeffrey Citron from Aug. 8, 2018, in which Costello shared a link to a Fox News story about Rudy Giuliani joining Trump’s legal team.

“All the more reason for Cohen to hire me because of my connection to Giuliani, which I mentioned to him in our meeting,” he wrote.

In another email, Costello says, “Our issue is to get Cohen on the right page without giving him the appearance that we are following instructions from Giuliani or the President. In my opinion this is the clear correct strategy.”

Questioned on the witness stand about the email, Costello told prosecutor Susan Hoffinger that he wanted “to get everybody on the same page because Michael Cohen had been complaining incessantly that Rudy Giuliani, was making statements in the press that Michael Cohen didn’t approve of.”

Costello told Hoffinger he has other emails clarifying that, “which I’d be delighted to tell you.”

“That’s alright,” Hoffinger replied snarkily.

The gallery laughed, prompting a court officer to yell “Quiet!”

May 21, 9:43 AM
Costello’s cross-examination already appearing tense

Only a few minutes into prosecutor Susan Hoffinger’s cross-examination of Michael Cohen’s former legal adviser Robert Costello, their exchanges are already sounding tense.

Hoffinger attempted to confirm that Costello boasted about his relationship with Rudy Giuliani, but Costello denied he did so during his first meeting with Cohen.

“You are quoting from an email that is much later,” Costello said.

“I am not quoting from an email,” Hoffinger replied.

Hoffinger then asked Costello about his relationship with Giuliani.

“He’s been to your wedding?” Hoffinger asked.

“Yes he was,” Costello said.

May 21, 9:35 AM
Costello retakes the stand

“Let’s get the witness please,” Judge Juan Merchan said after taking the bench.

Michael Cohen’s one-time legal adviser Robert Costello entered the courtroom and took the witness stand to continue his cross-examination.

“Good Morning, Mr. Costello. Welcome back,” Judge Merchan said.

May 21, 9:28 AM
Trump, Don Jr. are in the courtroom

Former President Trump has arrived in the courtroom.

His son Don Jr., accompanying him to this trial for the first time, is seated in the front row of the gallery.

May 21, 9:21 AM
Trump, prosecutors arrive for proceedings

The prosecution team has entered the courtroom for today’s proceedings.

Former President Trump has arrived at the courthouse.

May 21, 8:28 AM
Trump not expected to testify, sources say

Former President Trump is not expected to take the stand in his criminal hush money trial, sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News.

It’s possible that Trump could make a last-minute decision to testify, so sources caution that nothing is final until the defense rests its case.

Trump’s lawyers have indicated publicly that Robert Costello, Michael Cohen’s one-time legal adviser, is expected to be their last witness before they rest their case today.

May 21, 8:14 AM
Trump’s son Don Jr. expected to attend trial

Former President Donald Trump is expected to be joined by his son Don Jr. in court today.

It would mark the first time Don Jr. has attended the trial.

As has been the case over the last several days in court, a number of Republican lawmakers are expected to attend today’s proceedings in support of Trump.

May 21, 7:29 AM
Costello to resume testimony, defense expected to rest its case

A day after Judge Judge Juan Merchan threatened to remove him from the witness stand, former federal prosecutor Robert Costello will resume his testimony this morning as the second witness in Donald Trump’s defense case.

Costello is expected to be the final defense witness before Trump’s lawyers rest their case today.

Yesterday, Costello told jurors about his meetings and phone calls with Michael Cohen in 2018 after FBI agents raided his office and hotel room. Costello advised Cohen and helped pass messages to the Trump, according to Cohen, but never formally represented him as his lawyer.

“Michael Cohen said, numerous times, that President Trump knew nothing about those payments, that he did this on his own, and he repeated that numerous times,” Costello testified about the hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels that sits at the center of the case.

Cohen told the jury that he lied to Costello about Trump’s involvement in the scheme to use hush-money payments to hide information from voters.

Costello’s reactions to Judge Merchan after taking the stand yesterday afternoon — responding “jeez” to a sustained objection, rolling his eyes at the judge, and appearing to staring him down — prompted Merchan to clear the courtroom before threatening to remove Costello from the witness stand.

While defense lawyers suggested yesterday that they would not call Trump to the witness stand, they will likely have to confirm a final decision about the defendant’s testimony — or lack thereof — before they rest their case.

Judge Merchan has scheduled a charge conference at 2:15 p.m. ET to hear arguments over how to instruct the jury about the law in the case.

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