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Former US president Donald Trump sits in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York Michael M Santiago/PA Images
Trump on Trial

Defence rests without Donald Trump entering witness box in New York hush money trial

The jury was sent home until 28 May, when closing arguments are expected.

DONALD TRUMP’S LAWYERS have rested their defence without the former US president entering the witness box in his New York hush money trial.

“Your honour, the defence rests,” Trump lawyer Todd Blanche told the judge following evidence from a former federal prosecutor who had been called to attack the credibility of the prosecution’s key witness.

The jury was sent home until 28 May, when closing arguments are expected, but the lawyers will return later today to discuss how the judge will instruct jurors on deliberations.

Trump did not stop to speak as he left the courthouse and ignored a question about why he was not giving evidence.

He had previously said he wanted to enter the witness box to defend himself against what he claims are politically motivated charges.

After more than four weeks of evidence, jurors could begin deliberating as soon as next week to decide whether Trump is guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

Prosecutors have accused Trump of a scheme to bury negative stories to fend off damage to his 2016 presidential campaign and then falsifying internal business records to cover it up.

Trump, the first former American president to be tried criminally, has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing in the case, which he has condemned as politically motivated.

The charges stem from internal Trump Organisation records in which payments to Michael Cohen were marked as legal expenses.

Prosecutors say they were really reimbursements for a $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actor Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public before the 2016 election with claims of a sexual encounter with Trump.

Trump says nothing sexual happened between them.

“They have no case,” Trump said this morning before court adjourned.

“There’s no crime.”

embedded21ac4b4e4e574589863f5e46e96e80f6 Trump alongside his lawyer Todd Blanche at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York Michael M Santiago / PA Images Michael M Santiago / PA Images / PA Images

After jurors left for the day yesterday, defence lawyers pressed the judge to throw out the charges before jurors even begin deliberating, arguing prosecutors have failed to prove their case.

The defence has suggested that Trump was trying to protect his family, not his campaign, by squelching what he says were false, scurrilous claims.

Defence lawyer Todd Blanche argued that there was nothing illegal about soliciting a tabloid’s help to run positive stories about Trump, run negative stories about his opponents and identify potentially damaging stories before they were published.

No-one involved “had any criminal intent”, Blanche said.

“How is keeping a false story from the voters criminal?” he asked.

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo shot back that “the trial evidence overwhelmingly supports each element” of the alleged offences and said the case should proceed to the jury.

The judge did not immediately rule on the defence’s request.

Such long-shot requests are often made in criminal cases but are rarely granted.

Press Association