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First day of jury deliberations in Trump New York hush money trial

Politics
6:57 p.m. ET, May 29, 2024

Key things to know from the jury’s first day of deliberations in Trump’s hush money trial

From CNN’s Jeremy Herb, Lauren del Valle and Kara Scannell

Former US President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media at Manhattan criminal court in New York, on Wednesday, May 29.
Former US President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media at Manhattan criminal court in New York, on Wednesday, May 29. Yuki Iwamura/Pool/Reuters

The jury in Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial finished its first day of deliberations Wednesday without reaching a verdict after meeting for more than four-and-a-half hours.

Jurors will return on Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET to resume deliberations.

Wednesday afternoon, the jury asked to hear a readback of four separate parts of witness testimony, including from former National Enquirer chief David Pecker and Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen.

Here are the pieces of testimony the jury requested:

  • Pecker’s testimony about his phone conversation with Trump in June 2016
  • Pecker’s testimony about not finalizing Trump’s payment to AMI for Karen McDougal’s life rights
  • Pecker’s testimony about the August 2015 Trump Tower meeting
  • Cohen’s testimony about the Trump Tower meeting

Jurors also want to re-hear Judge Juan Merchan’s instructions on the law that he had given them earlier Wednesday morning.

Here are the key things to know about those instructions:

  • Merchan spent an hour instructing the jury on the law before it started deliberations.
  • He explained the 34 felony counts against Trump for falsifying business records over the reimbursement to Cohen for hush money payment to Stormy Daniels and went over the elements of the crime that jurors must decide prosecutors have proven beyond a reasonable doubt to return a guilty verdict.
  • Merchan also reminded jurors they must put aside their biases as they decide the defendant’s fate. “Remember, you have promised to be a fair juror,” the judge said.
5:35 p.m. ET, May 29, 2024

Fact Check: Trump’s false claim that the judge isn’t requiring a unanimous verdict

From CNN’s Daniel Dale and Jeremy Herb

Former President Donald Trump falsely claimed Wednesday that Judge Juan Merchan “is not requiring a unanimous decision on the fake charges against me.”

Trump made the claim in a social media post in which he described Merchan’s supposed position as “RIDICULOUS, UNCONSTITUTIONAL, AND UNAMERICAN.” He was echoing assertions that had been circulating among conservatives after Fox News anchor John Roberts wrote on social media earlier on Wednesday that “Judge Merchan just told the jury that they do not need unanimity to convict.” 

Facts FirstTrump’s claim inaccurately depicts what Merchan said.

Merchan told the jury in his instructions on Wednesday that their verdict “must be unanimous” on each of the 34 counts that Trump faces and that, to convict Trump of felony falsification of business records, they would have to unanimously agree that he falsified business records with the intent to commit, aid or conceal another crime — that other crime being a violation of a New York election law. But Merchan explained that while this New York election law prohibits people from conspiring to use “unlawful means” to promote a candidate’s election, jurors don’t have to unanimously agree on which particular “unlawful means” Trump may have used; they can find him guilty as long as they unanimously agree that Trump used some unlawful means.  

Prosecutors provided three theories of what unlawful means Trump used. Merchan told the jury: “Although you must conclude unanimously that the defendant conspired to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means, you need not be unanimous as to what those unlawful means were. In determining whether the defendant conspired to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means, you may consider the following: (1) violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act otherwise known as FECA; (2) the falsification of other business records; or (3) violation of tax laws.”

5:26 p.m. ET, May 29, 2024

Court is out of session

Judge Juan Merchan is off the bench, and court is out of session.

Trump is now standing to leave the courtroom.

5:27 p.m. ET, May 29, 2024

Judge to consider attorney requests on readback excerpts and says he will get back to them about disputes

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass says the readback testimony for the jury as it stands is about 35 pages.

Judge Juan Merchan asks the parties to get the excerpt line numbers sent to him via his clerk and he will get back to them about the disputes.

The judge asked everyone to be ready to go at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.

5:12 p.m. ET, May 29, 2024

Defense wants to keep the readback narrow to the jury’s request

Attorney Todd Blanche says the defense believes they should keep the readback narrow to the request and what happened after the meeting isn’t directly responsive to the request.

Judge Juan Merchan says he understands why Blanche would be concerned over most of the portion the prosecutors want to add.

5:15 p.m. ET, May 29, 2024

Prosecutors want an extra page of testimony read back to jurors about Trump Tower meeting

The parties disagree about the excerpts that answer the third jury readback request – David Pecker’s testimony about the Trump Tower meeting.

They’re going over the first passage in dispute. They agree on what page and line to start but not where it should end.

Prosecutors want an extra page of testimony to include what happened after the meeting and the execution of the plan hatched at the meeting.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass says they tried to draw a line between the substance of the meeting and what happened afterward.

5:10 p.m. ET, May 29, 2024

Prosecutor lists transcript page numbers to be read in court for 3 of jury’s 4 requests

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass is listing the transcript page numbers that will be read for three of the four requests from the jury.

Steinglass outlines the page numbers to be read for the first two requests.

When Judge Juan Merchan asks about the third request, Steinglass says, “This is the tough one.”

Merchan says to skip it for now and go to the fourth one. Steinglass then lists the page numbers for the fourth request.

5:05 p.m. ET, May 29, 2024

Prosecutor says progress has been made on transcripts but they may need judge to weigh in

Judge Juan Merchan is back on the bench.

“OK, where do we stand?” he asks.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass says they have made a lot of progress but there are a few issues they may need him to get involved with.

5:21 p.m. ET, May 29, 2024

Trump legal team requests expedited schedule for his gag order appeal 

From CNN’s Paula Reid and Nicki Brown

Donald Trump’s legal team is requesting an expedited briefing schedule for his gag order appeal at the Court of Appeals, according to Gary Spencer, a public information officer for the court.

This is regarding the same preliminary appeal statement the court received last week. It has not decided whether it will actually hear the appeal or not.

“President Trump has filed a request with the New York Court of Appeals seeking expedited review of the unconstitutional Gag Order imposed by Justice (Juan) Merchan,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement Wednesday. “The Gag Order wrongfully silences the leading candidate for President of the United States, President Trump, at the height of his campaign while he holds a commanding lead in the polls.’

Separately, Spencer said the Court of Appeals has given both sides until June 5 to file written arguments about whether or not Trump has an automatic right to appeal, which he has claimed.

After those written arguments are submitted, the court will decide if it will hear the appeal — which could take weeks, Spencer said.

Trump has continued to rail against the gag order throughout the hush money trial. He has been charged several thousand dollars in fines for multiple violations and made several false statements about its restrictions.