Trump trial live updates: Closing arguments conclude in hush money case

Key things to know:

  • Closing arguments in Trump's hush money trial concluded Tuesday after prosecutors and defense lawyers were given one final opportunity to convince the jury of their respective cases.
  • Arguments lasted until 8 p.m. ET and the judge is scheduled to deliver jury instructions on Wednesday.
  • Prosecutors say Trump falsified internal business records to cover up hush money payments tied to a scheme to buy and bury negative stories that potentially threatened his 2016 presidential bid. 

Closing arguments in Donald Trump's historic hush money trial concluded on Tuesday and the judge will deliver jury instructions on Wednesday.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys got one final opportunity to convince the jury of their respective cases before deliberations begin.

At the heart of the charges are reimbursements paid to Michael Cohen for a $130,000 hush money payment that was paid to porn actor Stormy Daniels in exchange for not going public with her claim about a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump.

Prosecutors say the payments to Cohen, Trump's then-lawyer, were falsely logged as "legal expenses" to hide the true nature of the transactions.

Trump has denied all wrongdoing.

He pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records, charges which are punishable by up to four years in prison.

Closing arguments are expected to last all day Tuesday, with jury deliberations beginning as soon as Wednesday.

Follow along for live updates:

8 p.m. ET: Closing arguments conclude as judge is set to deliver jury instructions on Wednesday 

Closing arguments in Trump's hush money trial concluded Tuesday evening in Manhattan.

Jurors will undertake the unprecedented task of deciding whether to convict the former U.S. president of felony criminal charges stemming from hush money payments tied to an alleged scheme to buy and bury stories that might have threatened Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

Closing arguments lasted all day Tuesday, with jury deliberations beginning as soon as Wednesday.

6:30 p.m. ET: ‘How do you rack up $35,000 worth of legal services in 11 minutes?’

Had Donald Trump truly been in the dark on the plan to repay Cohen, as the defense contends, Steinglass argues the admittedly frugal businessman would’ve balked at signing $35,000 monthly checks to him. Trump signed nine checks to Cohen totaling $315,000 in 2017, his first year as president, the Associated Press reported. 

Trump was aware that Cohen was serving as his personal lawyer, but that Cohen was hardly doing any legal work for him, Steinglass said. Yet, he didn’t object when he came across the $35,000 monthly checks that were sent to the White House for him to sign. Cohen said after leaving the Trump Organization in early 2017, he wasn’t drawing a salary as Trump’s lawyer.

"No, he just signs it. Every month. And he never once picks up that phone. He never once makes further inquiry," Steinglass said, arguing that even as president, Trump "remained involved even with minor decisions."

Adding to the seeming artifice of the repayment plan, Cohen sent his last invoice — which stated it was for services rendered in December 2017 — to Trump’s lieutenants at the Trump Organization at 9:11 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2017, Steinglass said.

"How do you rack up $35,000 worth of legal services in 11 minutes?" Steinglass asked.

6:15 p.m. ET: Joshua Steinglass says Trump’s own tweets undermine his defense

The prosecutor argued the defense’s characterization of the payments to Cohen as being for legitimate legal expenses is undermined by Trump’s own tweet and the fact that Trump didn’t pay Cohen anything in 2018, despite Cohen performing legal work for Trump that year, the Associated Press reported. 

"You’d have to think that despite this mountain of evidence none of that actually happened," Steinglass said, rhetorically asking jurors: "Does anyone believe that?"

6 p.m. ET: ‘The payment has everything to do with the campaign’

Joshua Steinglass seized on a 2018 Trump tweet in which the then-president described the arrangement with Cohen as "reimbursement" while insisting it was unrelated to Trump’s candidacy.

"Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA," Trump wrote at the time.

Steinglass said that while the payments didn’t come out of campaign funds, "the payment has everything to do with the campaign."

"And yet they still try to argue that the payments to Cohen in 2017 were for legal services rendered — because to say anything else is to admit that the business records were false, and they can’t do that," the prosecutor said of his counterparts at the defense table.

5:40 p.m. ET: The question of Michael Cohen’s timecard

Joshua Steinglass is telling the jury that Cohen did little work for Trump in 2017, despite the checks he was receiving. Trump’s lawyers contend the payments were for legal services Cohen provided that year.

The prosecutor pointed to Cohen testifying he did only about 10 hours of legal work that year.

"Mr. Cohen spent more time being cross-examined at this trial than he did doing legal work for Donald Trump in 2017," Steinglass quipped. "Do you think there’s any chance Donald Trump would pay $42,000 an hour for legal work by Michael Cohen?"

But Cohen didn’t suffer, Steinglass said, noting he got a "cool title" that helped him reel in lucrative consulting clients.

5:30 p.m. ET: The prosecution’s ‘smoking guns’

Joshua Steinglass argues the case has "smoking guns" — in the form of handwritten jottings by former Trump company finance chief Allen Weisselberg and ex-controller Jeffrey McConney, the Associated Press reported. 

The two documents show calculations related to the payments Cohen got in 2017. They included his reimbursement for the $130,000 he’d paid Daniels, as well as an unrelated reimbursement, a bonus, and money to cover taxes, according to testimony.

While the defense suggested that Cohen was the driving force in the decision to style the payments as fees for legal services, the Weisselberg and McConney notes are "overt manifestations" that that’s not so, the prosecutor argued.

"They are the smoking guns. They completely blow out of the water" the defense’s claims that the payments were for legal work, Steinglass said.

5:15 p.m. ET: An unusually late night

While Manhattan famously has a night court that handles arraignments — first court appearances of those recently arrested — it’s quite unusual for state court trials here to run as late as 7 p.m. or 8 p.m, the Associated Press noted. 

The judge has been consulting with high-level court security officers, among others, about the plan.

4:45 p.m. ET: Joshua Steinglass connects the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape and Stormy Daniels’ payment

Joshua Steinglass stressed that to understand the case against Trump, jurors need to understand the climate in which the deal to pay off Daniels was made — just after the "Access Hollywood" tape leak had "caused pandemonium in the Trump campaign," the Associated Press noted. 

"It’s critical to appreciate this," Steinglass said. At the same time he was dismissing his words on the tape as "locker room talk," Trump "was negotiating to muzzle a porn star," the prosecutor said.

"Stormy Daniels was a walking, talking reminder that the defendant wasn’t only words. She would have totally undermined his strategy of spinning away the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape," Steinglass said.

4:40 p.m. ET: The prosecutions closing argument stretches into a third hour

Joshua Steinglass is recapping the details of the back-and-forth between Daniels’ representatives and Cohen over the payoff deal.

Steinglass is supplementing his detailed recitation with phone records, text messages, encrypted communications and excerpts of testimony, seemingly trying to reinforce his theme that there’s a "mountain" of corroboration for the allegations at hand.

Meanwhile, Trump is taking in this leg of the summation with his head back and his eyes closed — a strategy he’s employed throughout the trial.

4:30 p.m. ET: Joshua Steinglass argues Trump’s concern in Daniels deal was the election, not his family

Responding to the defense’s argument that Trump was concerned for his family in the wake of the "Access Hollywood" leak, Joshua Steinglass told jurors it’s "no coincidence" that Stormy Daniel’s alleged sexual encounter with Trump "happened in 2006" but the payment to Daniels didn’t happen until the eve of the 2016 election. That’s because "the defendant’s primary concern was not his family but the election," Steinglass argued.

4:25 p.m. ET: ‘Access Hollywood’ tape a ‘Category 5' hurricane, prosecutor says

Joshua Steinglass reminded jurors how Hope Hicks, then the campaign’s communications director, testified that news coverage of the "Access Hollywood" tape knocked a Category 4 hurricane out of the headlines, the Associated Press noted. 

The prosecutor dubbed the tape a "Category 5" hurricane.

4:20 p.m. ET: Prosecution closing argument turns to ‘Access Hollywood’ tape

Joshua Steinglass has resumed delivering his closing argument, focusing now on the publication of the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape in October 2016 and the fallout for Trump’s campaign, with just weeks to go before Election Day.

4:15 p.m. ET: ‘No paper trail’

Joshua Steinglass stressed that Michael Cohen’s secret recording, in which he was allegedly briefing Trump on a plan to buy the rights to Karen McDougal’s story from the National Enquirer "shows the defendant’s cavalier willingness to hide this payoff."

"This shows the defendant suggesting paying in cash," the prosecutor said as he showed jurors a transcript of the September 2016 recording. "It doesn’t matter if that means a bag of cash or no financing, no lump sum. He’s trying to do it in a way that leaves no paper trail, that’s the whole point."

"This tape unequivocally shows a presidential candidate actively engaging in a scheme to influence the election by reimbursing AMI for the McDougal story," Steinglass added. He argued that’s why the defense has tried so hard to discredit it.

4:05 p.m. ET: Joshua Steinglass focuses on Karen McDougal

Joshua Steinglass is taking issue with the defense’s efforts to cast doubt on a September 2016 recording that Cohen made of a conversation with Trump in which the two are allegedly heard discussing a plan to buy the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story from the National Enquirer, the Associated Press reported. 

Steinglass said the defense had gone to "laughable lengths" to try to undermine the recording, which he described as "nothing short of jaw-dropping."

Cohen had testified that the recording, which cuts off before the conversation finishes, was interrupted when he received an incoming call.

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche had tried to frame the recording as unreliable and suggested it was actually about a plan to buy a collection of material on Trump that the National Enquirer had been hoarding — not McDougal.

He also questioned whether Trump mentioned a dollar figure that he might have to spend, as Cohen and prosecutors contend, or whether he said something else.

4 p.m. ET: ‘Trump is looming behind everything that they’re doing’

Joshua Steinglass said joking texts between Karen McDougal’s lawyer Keith Davidson and then-National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard about hypothetical ambassadorships were clear evidence that they knew the deal would benefit Trump’s presidential campaign, according to the Associated Press. 

"Throw in an ambassadorship for me. I’m thinking Isle of Mann," Davidson wrote on July 28, 2016, referring to the British territory Isle of Man.

"I’m going to Make Australia Great Again," replied Howard, who hails from Australia.

All joking aside, Steinglass said: "It’s a palpable recognition of what they’re doing. They’re helping Trump get elected." The prosecutor said the text messages underscore that "Trump is looming behind everything that they’re doing."

3:50 p.m. ET: Joshua Steinglass seeks to make ‘catch-and-kill’ connection

Joshua Steinglass pushed back on Blanche’s contention that the National Enquirer’s deal to bury the Trump Tower doorman’s bogus story wasn’t a form of catch and kill, the Associated Press reported. 

Steinglass noted that the National Enquirer amended its source agreement with doorman Dino Sajudin so that he would be paid the agreed upon $30,000 fee within five days of signing the document — instead of upon publication of the story, as had been previously drafted.

"The only reason to kill a bogus story," certainly wasn’t to act in a financially responsible fashion or satisfy the tabloid’s investors, Steinglass argued, but to be "in service of the defendant’s campaign."

3:45 p.m. ET: Prosecutor seeks to tie Trump’s campaign with the National Enquirer

Joshua Steinglass called the National Enquirer’s work on Trump’s behalf "one of the most valuable contributions that anyone ever made to the Trump campaign," the Associated Press noted. 

"This scheme, cooked up by these three men, could very well be what got President Trump elected," Steinglass said.

3:30 p.m. ET: Joshua Steinglass hits back at Todd Blanche’s claim that ‘every campaign’ is a conspiracy

Batting back Todd Blanche’s argument that "every campaign in this country is a conspiracy to promote a candidate" and that Trump’s alleged efforts to suppress negative stories were no different, Joshua Steinglass said they actually were "the subversion of democracy."

The purpose of the effort, Steinglass argued, was "to manipulate and defraud the voters, to pull the wool over their eyes in a coordinated fashion."

3:15 p.m. ET: ‘This case is not about Michael Cohen. It’s about Donald Trump’

After Trump’s lawyer insisted to jurors that the case rested on Michael Cohen and that they couldn’t trust him, Joshua Steinglass sought to persuade the group that there is "a mountain of evidence, of corroborating testimony, that tends to connect the defendant to this crime."

He pointed to testimony from Pecker and others, to the recorded conversation in which Trump and Cohen appear to discuss the Karen McDougal deal, and to Trump’s own tweets.

"It’s not about whether you like Michael Cohen. It’s not about whether you want to go into business with Michael Cohen. It’s whether he has useful, reliable information to give you about what went down in this case, and the truth is that he was in the best position to know," the prosecutor said.

Steinglass accused the defense of wanting to make this case all about Cohen.

"It isn’t. That’s a deflection," he said. "This case is not about Michael Cohen. It’s about Donald Trump."

3 p.m. ET: Joshua Steinglass acts out a hypothetical call between Michael Cohen and Trump

Joshua Steinglass used a bit of stagecraft to challenge the defense’s assertion that Cohen was lying about the subject of an Oct. 24, 2016, phone call in which he says he told Trump the Daniels payoff was being finalized, according to the Associated Press. 

Steinglass demonstrated a hypothetical version of the phone call, showing jurors how Cohen could’ve covered multiple subjects in less than a minute.

Cohen said he called Trump’s bodyguard that night because he knew they’d be together and that’s how he sometimes got ahold of Trump.

Trump’s lawyers, citing phone and text message records, contend the true nature of the call had to do with harassing phone calls Cohen was dealing with, and that he was calling the bodyguard, Keith Schiller, to talk about that issue.

"To them, that is the big lie," Steinglass said, characterizing the defense argument.

Cohen’s actual call to Schiller’s phone number lasted 96 seconds, according to phone records. Steinglass showed, with his hypothetical, that Cohen could’ve spoken to Schiller about the prank calls, asked him to pass the phone to Trump and then discussed the Daniels deal with Trump, all in 49 seconds.

As he finished the demonstration, Steinglass took a swipe at his own acting skills, telling jurors: "Sorry if I didn’t do a good job."

One juror cracked a slight smile as Steinglass acted out the hypothetical call.

2:45 p.m. ET: Joshua Steinglass doesn’t ask jurors to sympathize with Cohen, but he does want them to understand his motives

The defense portrayed Michael Cohen as a lying opportunist who has profited off his hatred of Trump. Prosecutors, on the other hand, are suggesting that the disbarred attorney had little choice but to parlay his history with Trump into books, a podcast, merchandise and more.

"I’m not asking you to feel bad for Michael Cohen. He made his bed," Steinglass told jurors. "But you can hardly blame him for making money from the one thing he has left, which is his knowledge of the inner workings of the Trump Organization."

2:30 p.m. ET: ‘Stormy Daniels is the motive,’ says Joshua Steinglass

Stormy Daniels’ at times "cringeworthy" testimony about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in 2006 was vital because it "only reinforces his incentive to buy her silence," Joshua Steinglass said.

The prosecutor said Daniels’ account of her hotel-suite meeting with Trump — replete with details of the décor and what she saw when she snooped in Trump’s toiletry kit — was full of touchstones "that kind of ring true," the Associated Press reported. 

"Her story is messy. It makes people uncomfortable to hear. It probably makes some of you uncomfortable to hear. But that’s kind of the point," Steinglass said.

He told jurors: "In the simplest terms, Stormy Daniels is the motive."

"We don’t have to prove that sex actually took place, but the defendant knew what happened in that hotel room and the extent that you credit her testimony, that only reinforces his incentive to buy her silence," Steinglass argued.


2:15 p.m. ET: Joshua Steinglass rebuffs the defense’s efforts to discredit Michael Cohen’s testimony

He said that, of course, the jury should take Michael Cohen’s past dishonesty into account.

"How could you not?" he asked.

But he said that Cohen’s anger is understandable given that, "To date, he’s the only one that’s paid the price for his role in this conspiracy."

Cohen, Steinglass argued, did Trump’s bidding for years, was his right-hand man, and then, when things went bad, was cut lose and thrown under the bus.

"Anyone in Cohen’s shoes would want the defendant to be held accountable," he argued.

2 p.m. ET: Allegations of extortion are ‘not a defense to election fraud’

Seeking to rebut the defense’s claim that Stormy Daniels was trying to "extort" Trump, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass noted that her representatives initially sought to sell the story to media outlets, not to Trump. The prosecutor also cited Daniels’ testimony, where the actor explained why she felt going public was the best way to protect herself and her family from pressure to stay silent.

Regardless, allegations of extortion are "not a defense to election fraud," the prosecutor said.

"You don’t get to commit election fraud or falsify business records because you believe you’ve been victimized," he told jurors.

1:45 p.m. ET: Judge tells jurors they must disregard ‘improper’ comment from Trump’s lawyer that they shouldn’t send him to prison

Judge Juan M Merchan tells jurors that lawyer Todd Blanche’s comment asking jurors not to send Trump to prison "was improper and you must disregard it." He said jurors are not to consider possible punishment in their deliberations and that sentencing decisions are solely up to him, the Associated Press reported. 

1:30 p.m. ET: Robert De Niro’s verbal spat with Trump supporters

Donald Trump posted a video on his social media network of one of his supporters getting into a shouting match with actor Robert De Niro after the actor’s comments outside court.

"You are gangsters. You are gangsters," De Niro said.

"You’re washed up," the man replied.

De Niro responded with an expletive as he was ushered away surrounded by cameras.

Another man, wearing a red "Make America Great Again Hat," yelled, "You’re nobody. Your movies suck. You’re trash."

1:15 p.m. ET: Trump’s kids speak in support of their father

Donald Trump’s children held a news conference outside the courthouse during a lunch break, with Donald Trump Jr. echoing Blanche and calling Cohen "the GOAT [greatest of all time] of liars."

He said the Biden campaign holding a news conference at the trial showed it was a "political persecution" and in using one of his father’s frequent terms, called it a "witch hunt."

"This is a sham. This is insane. It needs to stop," he said.

His brother Eric Trump decried "political warfare" and said his father is the "toughest man I’ve ever seen" and "he endures this nonsense every single day."

"I want to say sorry to the jury that’s in there. This has been the greatest colossal waste of time," he said.

Lara Trump, his wife and the Republican National Committee co-chair, said that Bragg, the top law enforcement officer in New York, was focusing on her father-in-law instead of crime in New York. "If they can profit off it on the other side, so can we," she said, and plugged Trump’s campaign website where donations can be accepted, the Associated Press reported. 

1:10 p.m. ET: Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass takes issue with ‘ridiculous comment’ from the defense

Before the break, the judge scolded Blanche for imploring jurors not to send Trump to prison on the words of Michael Cohen and said he would instruct the jury to disregard the comment, the Associated Press noted. 

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass had taken issue with what he cast as a "ridiculous comment" and asked the judge to intervene.

"I think that saying that was outrageous," Merchan scolded Blanche. "Someone who’s been a prosecutor as long as you have and a defense attorney as long as you have, you know that making a comment like that is highly inappropriate. It’s simply not allowed. Period."

If Trump is convicted, sentencing will be up to the judge, not the jury.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, charges punishable by up to four years in prison. It’s unclear whether prosecutors would seek imprisonment in the event of a conviction, or if the judge would impose that punishment.

1:05 p.m. ET: Todd Blanche concludes his closing argument

Todd Blanche finishes his summation by telling jurors the case "isn’t a referendum on your views of President Trump."

"This is not a referendum on the ballot box — who you voted for in 2016 or 2020, who you plan on voting for in 2024. That is not what this is about," the attorney told jurors. "The verdict you have to reach has to do with the evidence you heard in this courtroom," and nothing else, he reminds them.

He implored the jury to return a quick not-guilty verdict.

1 p.m. ET: Todd Blanche labels Michael Cohen ‘the human embodiment of reasonable doubt’

"He lied to you repeatedly. He lied many, many times before you even met him. His financial and personal well-being depends on this case. He is biased and motivated to tell you a story that is not true," the attorney told jurors.

Mimicking the acronym GOAT, used primarily in sports for "greatest of all time," Blanche also declared Cohen "the GLOAT: the greatest liar of all time."

12:55 p.m. ET: Defense lawyer gives ‘Top 10' list as his closing argument nears end

Todd Blanche is wrapping up his testimony with what he’s calling a "Top 10" list of reasonable doubt.

Among the arguments: Cohen created the invoices that he submitted to the Trump Organization, not Trump; there’s no proof that Trump knew what Trump Organization staffers were doing with the payments; there’s no evidence that Trump had an intent to defraud; and there’s no evidence of a conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.

"The bottom line is, there is no falsification of business records," Blanche said.

12:50 p.m. ET: Todd Blanche calls Michael Cohen ‘an MVP of liars’

The defense lawyer’s voice grew to a roar — the loudest he’s been all morning — as he declared that Cohen lied about speaking to Trump by phone about the Daniels arrangement on Oct. 24, 2016, according to the Associated Press. 

"It was a lie," Blanche said. "That was a lie and he got caught red-handed."

Blanche called Cohen "literally like an MVP of liars."

"He lied to Congress. He lied to prosecutors. He lied to his family and business associates," he said.

12:45 p.m. Michael Cohen’s admitted obsession with Trump

As he nears the end of his summation, Todd Blanche is reminding jurors of Cohen’s self-admitted fixation on Trump — and his desire to see him behind bars. He played short clips of Cohen’s podcast in which he commended District Attorney Alving Bragg and said that the idea of seeing the former president booked on criminal charges "fills me with delight." The case against Trump is built around testimony from "a witness that outright hates the defendant, wants him in jail, is actively making money off that hatred," Blanche said.

While Cohen has testified that he lied to protect Trump, his family and others, Blanche asserted that the ex-lawyer "is lying simply to protect Michael Cohen and nobody else. Period."

12:40 p.m. ET: Defense sharpens critique of ‘catch and kills’

Todd Blanche questioned the prosecution’s narrative that the Daniels payment in October 2016 was part of a conspiracy amongst Donald Trump, Michael Cohen and the National Enquirer to suppress negative stories about the then-candidate through the practice known as "catch and kill."

Cohen had known about Daniels’ claim since it was published without her permission on a gossip website in 2011, Blanche said, and Daniels had authorized her manager to seek offers to sell the story in early 2016, after Trump had started running for president, the Associated Press reported. 

"Why did it not go anywhere for months and months and months if there was a catch-and-kill scheme?" Blanche asked.

Cohen agreed to pay Daniels in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, after the leak of the "Access Hollywood" tape.

Blanche reminded jurors of the two other stories that prosecutors say were buried through "catch and kill." The National Enquirer paid $30,000 for a since-disproven rumor from a Trump Tower doorman and $150,000 to McDougal for her claim of an affair with Trump, though publisher David Pecker testified the tabloid wasn’t interested in pursuing her story at first because it couldn’t be corroborated.

Pecker said he refused to pay Daniels because he didn’t want to shell out any more money for Trump without getting repaid, leaving Cohen to make the deal himself.

Blanche suggested the publisher didn’t want anything to do with the story anyway.

"That’s our conspiracy? That’s the three catch and kills?" Blanche said.

12:30 p.m. ET: Sticky notes

A yellow sticky note affixed to the papers Trump carried into court read, "This case should be dismissed by the judge but it’s totally corrupt." Images of the handwritten note were captured when news photographers were briefly allowed into the courtroom before proceedings started Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. 

The note looks like Trump’s handwriting, in his preferred thick black marker. Trump has in the past carried reminder notes when speaking before cameras about significant news. When he spoke outside his first impeachment trial as president, he carried a handwritten note that said, "I want no quid pro quo." When he spoke at the White House in 2019 about his push to try to address infrastructure, photographers captured him holding a note that said, "They want to impeach over acts that they did" and "I’m going to keep working for the American people."

12:10 p.m. ET: The defense downplays the "Access Hollywood" tape

Todd Blanche is trying to downplay the fallout from the "Access Hollywood" tape, which sent Trump’s 2016 campaign into a tailspin, telling the jury: "It was not a doomsday event," according to the Associated Press. 

Blanche conceded that Trump was bothered by the story. "Nobody wants their family to be subjected to that type of thing," he said. "It doesn’t matter if you’re running for office, if you’re running ‘The Apprentice’ ... Nobody wants their family exposed to that type of story."

Nonetheless, he argued characterizations of the tape as devastating were an exaggeration. He pointed to testimony from Trump’s former assistant Madeleine Westerhout, whom he said cast the fallout as "a couple of days of frustration and consternation."

Westerhout, who was then working for the Republican National Committee in close coordination with the Trump campaign, had testified that the tape "rattled the RNC leadership" but that Trump wasn’t thrown by it.

RNC Chair Reince Priebus had told Trump after the tape was released that he had two choices: to drop out of the race or lose by the largest margin in history, Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has recounted.

11:55 a.m. ET: Todd Blanche turns his attention to Stormy Daniels

As Todd Blanche resumed the defense’s summation, he pointed out that Daniels issued two statements in 2018 denying that she’d ever had a sexual encounter with Trump. She testified that she signed off on them at her lawyer’s urging, the Associated Press noted. 

11:50 a.m. ET: Todd Blanche argues ‘people already knew’ about Stormy Daniels’ claims

Turning to Stormy Daniels’ story, Blanche noted that her allegations of a sexual encounter with Trump were aired on a gossip site in 2011, four years before Trump announced his presidential candidacy. Trump has denied having sex with Daniels.

"So how could this issue have influenced the election?" Blanche argued. "People already knew about the allegations."

At the behest of Daniels and Cohen, the story was taken off the site.

Blanche asserted that the real impetus behind Daniels’ interest in making a deal in 2016 was that some people wanted to use the election as pressure to "extort" Trump.

11:45 a.m. ET: Defense denies recorded conversation between Trump and Michael Cohen was about a porn star payoff

Todd Blanche took aim at a key piece of prosecution evidence: the secret recording Cohen says he made of himself briefing Trump on a plan to buy the rights to McDougal’s story from the National Enquirer, according to the Associated Press. 

Blanche said the September 2016 recording, which cuts off before the conversation finishes, is unreliable and isn’t about McDougal at all — but rather a plan to buy a collection of material that the tabloid had been hoarding on Trump. Cohen has said the audio cut off because the iPhone he was using to make the recording was receiving a phone call.

"There is no doubt that this recording discussed AMI and discussed Mr. Pecker," Blanche said, referring to the National Enquirer’s parent company and then-publisher. "There is a lot of doubt that it discussed Karen McDougal."

After playing parts of the recording, Blanche urged jurors to trust their ears when deciphering a key part — whether Trump mentioned a dollar figure that he might have to spend, as Cohen and prosecutors contend, or whether he said something else.

"What do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?" Trump said, according to Cohen and prosecutors, as in $150,000.

"Listen to the recording. See if you hear one-fifty," Blanche told jurors.

11:40 a.m. ET: Trump campaign hosts news conference to rebut De Niro, Jan. 6 officers

Donald Trump’s campaign staffers held their own news conference outside the courthouse in the exact same spot where actor Robert De Niro and Jan. 6 officers had just spoken on behalf of the Biden campaign.

Jason Miller, Trump’s senior campaign advisor, called De Niro "a washed-up actor," and said the news conference showed that the trial was political.

"After months of saying politics had nothing to do with this trial, they showed up and made a campaign event out of a lower Manhattan trial day for President Trump," Miller said.

Karoline Leavitt, the campaign press secretary, called the Biden campaign "desperate and failing" and "pathetic" and said their event outside the trial was "a full-blown concession that this trial is a witch hunt that comes from the top."

11:35 a.m. ET: Todd Blanche argues a second AMI deal was ‘not a catch-and-kill’

Taking aim at prosecutors’ portrayal of Karen McDougal’s deal with AMI as part of the purported hush money conspiracy, Todd Blanche emphasized testimony from her lawyer and others that she didn’t even want her claim published, the Associated Press reported. 

Rather, Blanche said the former Playboy model wanted to reenergize her career by getting into magazines, according to the testimony — though McDougal herself didn’t testify.

"This was not a catch-and-kill," Blanche said.

11:30 a.m. ET: Todd Blanche suggests Michael Cohen tailored his testimony after seeing what another witness said about him

On the witness stand as the last prosecution witness, Cohen stressed that he’d routinely update Trump on tasks he’d performed on his behalf so that he’d get credit for doing them. Cohen said he wanted to "obtain credit" so that Trump "understood that I was accomplishing what he wanted."

Blanche reminded jurors that Cohen acknowledged following the case closely prior to testifying, noting that Trump’s aide, confidante and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks testified 10 days before he did that Cohen is "the kind of person who seeks credit."

11:25 a.m. ET: ‘This isn’t a catch-and-kill’

Todd Blanche has taken issue with the notion that there was a conspiracy to suppress negative stories to help Trump’s campaign. Blanche pointed to AMI’s $30,000 payment to Dino Sajudin, a former Trump Tower doorman who falsely alleged the former president had fathered a child out of wedlock. It was one of three potentially damaging stories the tabloid did not run, according to the Associated Press. 

Blanche pointed to Pecker’s testimony that he saw the doorman story as a potential blockbuster and would gladly have published it if it had been true.

"This isn’t a catch-and-kill. This is an opportunity," Blanche said. "It was worth too much to catch and kill, full stop."

He also noted Pecker had testified that the tabloid only published about half the stories they purchased.

"That’s meaningful. That matters," he told the jury.

11:15 a.m. ET: Todd Blanche urges jurors to disregard concerns over ‘conspiracy’

Todd Blanche implored the jury to reject the prosecution’s contention that Trump engaged in a conspiracy to influence the 2016 election by involving himself in efforts to bury negative stories about him — and to reject the allegation that, after the fact, he falsified records of Cohen’s payments to hide that conspiracy.

"The government wants you to believe that President Trump did these things with his records to conceal efforts to promote his successful candidacy in 2016, the year before," Blanche said.

"Even that, even if you find that is true, that is not enough ... it doesn’t matter if there’s a conspiracy to win an election. Every campaign in this country is a conspiracy to promote a candidate, a group of people who are working together to help somebody win."

11:05 a.m. ET: Todd Blanche notes Trump watches his finances carefully

Michael Cohen got $420,000 in all from Trump in 2017, a sum that the ex-lawyer and prosecutors have said included the $130,000 reimbursement related to Daniels, a $50,000 repayment for an unrelated expense and a $60,000 bonus. On top of that, they’ve said, there was extra money to cover taxes that would be due on the $130,000 as income — taxes that wouldn’t apply if it had simply been paid as a business expense reimbursement, the Associated Press reported. 

"That is absurd," Blanche told jurors, pointing to "all the other evidence you heard about how carefully President Trump watches his finances."

The defense had previously argued Tuesday that Trump may not have been fully aware of all his invoices.

11 a.m. ET: Robert De Niro, Jan. 6 first responders say Trump is a threat to democracy

The Biden campaign has sent Robert De Niro and two former law enforcement officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, not far from the criminal court where Donald Trump’s hush money trial is happening.

Speaking while the former president is stuck in court, De Niro said Trump wants to "destroy not only the city, but the country and eventually he could destroy the world."

He said if Trump gets reelected, "he will never leave" and that Americans can "kiss these freedoms goodbye that we all take for granted."

As he spoke, Trump protesters screamed anti-Biden chants.

10:39 a.m. ET: Todd Blanche further lays into Michael Cohen’s credibility

Todd Blanche argued that the key prosecution witness was lying when he said he was working for free as Trump’s personal lawyer once Trump became president.

"What the government did for the past five weeks, at the end of the day, is ask you to believe the man who testified two weeks ago: Michael Cohen," Blanche told jurors. "Michael Cohen asked you to ignore the documents, ignore what the email says about sending a retainer agreement sought by Mr. Weisselberg, asked you to believe that he worked for free."

As Trump was getting ready to move to the White House, Cohen testified he was upset that his annual Trump Organization holiday bonus had been slashed from $150,000 to $50,000. Blanche asked, in light of that frustration, was Cohen really going to work for free?

"Is that the man that testified, or is that a lie?" Blanche asked.

10:35 a.m. ET: Defense stresses Trump was extremely busy when signing checks

Todd Blanche stressed that Trump was busy during the time when he signed the checks at the heart of the case.

"It matters where President Trump was," at this time Blanche said.

He noted Trump assistant Madeleine Westerhout had testified that Trump would sometimes sign checks while meeting with people or while on the phone, not knowing what they were.

Blanche argued it was unreasonable to suggest Trump was aware of the details of every invoice just because he knew of some. "That is a stretch and that is reasonable doubt, ladies and gentlemen," he said.

10:32 a.m. ET: Accounts payable takes center stage

In an effort to show Donald Trump was distant from the transactions at the heart of the charges. Blanche focused for a bit on a February 2017 email that then-Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney sent to an accounts payable staffer, telling her how to handle the payments to Michael Cohen, the Associated Press noted. 

"Post to legal expenses. Put ‘retainer for the months of January and February 2017’ in the description," the email read in part.

McConney testified that he never talked to Trump about how to characterize the payments and was "just taking information from the invoice" Cohen had submitted. 

10:30 a.m. ET: How did Michael Cohen get paid?

Todd Blanche is getting into the details of how payments to Cohen were made, first through a trust set up to hold Trump’s assets while he was in office, then through Trump’s personal bank account with checks signed by the then-president, according to the Associated Press. 

"This was a very confusing time for the Trump Organization," Blanche said. There were a lot of adjustments being made as Trump’s assets were put under the trust’s control and it was the first time in decades that Trump wasn’t in charge, Blanche said.

At one point, early in the repayment process in 2017, then-Trump Organization finance chief emailed a subordinate that it was OK to pay Cohen out of the trust per an agreement with Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr. who were running the Trump Organization’s day-to-day operations at the time. Both were in court Tuesday.

Blanche questioned why, if prosecutors allege Trump was involved in a conspiracy to conceal the nature of the payments, the sons he put in charge of his company weren’t called to the witness stand. "Guess who else you didn’t hear from at this trial? Don or Eric," Blanche said.

10:25 a.m. ET: Don’t believe everything you read

Todd Blanche took aim at the prosecution’s use of excerpts from Trump’s book to attempt to portray him as a detail-oriented micromanager who would be fully aware of any money his company was spending.

The books were from a decade ago, if not older, and were written with the help of ghostwriters, Blanche told the jury.

"You should be suspicious. That’s a red flag," Blanche said in an effort to preempt the prosecution’s closing arguments.

10:20 a.m. ET: ‘Michael Cohen was President Trump’s personal attorney. Period,’ Blanche says

A key part of prosecutors’ claims is that Michael Cohen wasn’t being paid for legal work in 2017, but rather was being reimbursed in a veiled way for the Daniels payment. Todd Blanche pointed to emails and testimony showing that Cohen did indeed work on some legal matters for Trump that year, the Associated Press. 

While Cohen characterized that work as "very minimal," Blanche argued otherwise.

"Cohen lied to you. Cohen lied to you," Blanche said, his voice getting more emphatic.

Blanche noted that Cohen went on TV to discuss his role as Trump’s personal lawyer and put the title in the signature block of every email he sent. "This was not a secret. Michael Cohen was President Trump’s personal attorney. Period," Blanche said.

10:06 a.m. ET: Biden and Trump campaigns to hold dueling press conferences outside the courthouse

President Joe Biden’s campaign announced that it would hold an event with "special guests" as closing arguments are underway.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller says the former president’s allies will respond with their own event immediately following Biden’s. He wrote on X, formerly Twitter that Biden’s allies "aren’t in PA, MI, WI, NV, AZ or GA - they’re outside the Biden Trial against President Trump," adding: "It’s always been about politics."

10:02 a.m. ET: Welcome to Todd Blanche’s PowerPoint presentation

The defense is using a PowerPoint presentation as it begins its summation and tries to shift blame to Michael Cohen and the Trump Organization.

Todd Blanche is showing the jury copies of the invoices, vouchers and checks that are at the heart of the case — vouchers and checks he says were entered and prepared by the company’s accounting department.

The PowerPoint also notes Cohen sent the invoices for his services. None of the invoices were sent directly to then-President Trump, Blanche says.

9:55 a.m. ET: Defense begins closing arguments

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche began his closing argument Tuesday morning by telling jurors that Donald Trump "is innocent" of the charges against him.

"He did not commit any crimes and the district attorney has not met their burden of proof. Period," Blanche said before adding that evidence in the case "should leave you wanting."

"This case is about documents. It’s a paper case. This case is not about an encounter with Stormy Daniels 18 years ago, an encounter that President Trump has unequivocally and repeatedly denied ever occurred," Blanche said. "Nor is it about the confidential settlement and non-disclosure agreement that Daniels entered into eight years ago."

8:40 a.m. ET: What happens during closing arguments?

Prosecutors and defense lawyers will have their final opportunity to address the jury in closing arguments.

The arguments don’t count as evidence in the case charging Trump with falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments during the 2016 presidential election. 

They’ll instead function as hours-long recaps of the key points the lawyers want to leave jurors with before the panel disappears behind closed doors for deliberations.

Jurors over the course of a month have heard testimony about sex and bookkeeping, tabloid journalism and presidential politics. 

Their task ahead will be to decide whether prosecutors who have charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records have proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

8:15 a.m. ET: What must be proved for a conviction?

With closing arguments in Donald Trump's hush money trial expected to get underway Tuesday morning, jurors have a weighty task ahead of them — deciding whether to convict the former U.S. president of some, all or none of the 34 felony counts he's charged with.

To convict Trump of felony falsifying business records, prosecutors must convince jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that he not only falsified or caused business records to be entered falsely but also did so with intent to commit or conceal another crime. 

Any verdict must be unanimous.

To prevent a conviction, the defense simply needs to convince at least one juror that prosecutors haven’t proved Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard for criminal cases.

New York also has a misdemeanor falsifying business records charge, which requires proving only that a defendant made or caused the false entries, but it is not part of Trump’s case and will not be considered by jurors.

Trump's hush money case

The indictment against Trump centers on payoffs allegedly made to two women, porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Trump’s former lawyer and "fixer," Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 and arranged for the publisher of the National Enquirer supermarket tabloid to pay McDougal $150,000.

Trump's company, the Trump Organization, then reimbursed Cohen and paid him bonuses and extra payments – all of which, prosecutors say, were falsely logged as legal expenses in company records. Over several months, Cohen said the company paid him $420,000.

Payments were also allegedly made to a Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about a child he alleged Trump had out of wedlock.

The indictment, brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, made Trump the first ex-president ever to face criminal charges.

Trump has denied the accusations.

Who are the jurors?

After being forced to release a seated juror, the judge ordered the media not to report on where potential jurors have worked – even when stated in open court – and to be careful about revealing information about those who would sit in judgment of the former president. Here's what we can report.

Juror 1 and foreperson: A man who lives in New York City and has no children. Loves the outdoors and gets his news from The New York Times, Daily Mail, Fox News and MSNBC. 

When asked by Trump defense attorney Todd Blanche if he was aware Trump is charged in other cases and jurisdictions, and how that affects him, the man said, "I don’t have an opinion." 

Juror 2: A man who said he follows Trump’s former lawyer, Cohen, on "X," formerly known as Twitter. He also revealed he follows other right-wing accounts including Trump’s former adviser, Kellyanne Conway. 

He has said he would unfollow Cohen as he may be a witness in the trial. 

Juror 3: A middle-aged man who lives in Manhattan. He grew up in Oregon. He gets his news from The New York Times and Google. 

Juror 4: A man who lived in New York City for 15 years. He is originally from California. He is married with three children and a wife who is a teacher. He has served on a jury before – both on a grand jury and a jury in a criminal trial. 

The juror said he gets his news from "a smattering" of sources and does not use social media. 

Juror 5: A young woman who is a New York native. 

She gets most of her news from Google and Tiktok. 

Juror 6: A young woman who lives in Manhattan and likes to dance. 

Juror 7: A man who is married with two children. 

He gets most of his news from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and The Washington Post. The man has said he is aware there are other lawsuits but said, "I’m not sure that I know anyone’s character." 

Juror 8: No information has been released about this juror. 

Juror 9: A woman who lives in Manhattan. She is not married and has no children. 

She has never served on a jury before and does not watch the news. However, she said she does have email subscriptions to CNN and The New York Times. She follows social media accounts and listens to podcasts. She also enjoys watching reality TV. 

Juror 10: A man who lives in Manhattan. He is not married and has no children. He does have a roommate who works in accounting. He rarely follows the news but he does listen to podcasts on behavioral psychology. 

Juror 11: No information has been released about this juror. 

Juror 12: No information has been released about this juror. 

How can I watch the Trump trial?

The trial is not being televised. Instead, news reporters and producers will have the ability to sit inside the courtroom and deliver information to the public.

How many court cases is Trump involved in?

As of this report, Trump is currently involved in four criminal cases, which includes the hush money case. 

A second case out of Fulton County, Georgia, has charged Trump, as well as 18 others, with participating in a scheme to illegally attempt to overturn the former president’s loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. 

Trump is also involved in a third criminal case in Washington, D.C., which charged him with allegedly conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the run-up to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. 

And his fourth case involves classified documents that Trump illegally retained at his Mar-a-Lago estate after he left the White House. 

RELATED: A guide to Trump’s court cases

The Associated Press, FOX News, FOX 5 NY and Catherine Stoddard contributed to this report.