New York v. Trump: Defense Says Former President Trump is ‘Innocent,’ Prosecutors ‘Did Not Meet the Burden of Proof’ 

On Tuesday, former President Trump’s defense attorneys told the jury he is innocent and didn’t commit any crimes and that District Attorney for Manhattan Alvin Bragg “did not meet the burden of proof. Period.”

Todd Blanche, defense attorney, delivered Tuesday closing arguments after a six-week, unprecedented, and historic criminal trial of a former president of the United States. 

The former president has been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. He has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Donald Trump falsified records to conceal a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, a porn actress, in the build-up to the 2016 election to keep her silent about her alleged affair with Trump in 2006. Trump continues to maintain his innocence.

“Each of you will decide at the end of this case whether President Trump is guilty or not guilty,” said Blanche. “President Trump is innocent. He did not commit any crimes. The district attorney did not meet the burden of proof. Period.”

The case is “simple” and is “not a guilty verdict,” added Blanche.

“This case is about documents; it is a paper case,” Blanche said. “This case is not about an encounter with Stormy Daniels 18 years ago. It is not even about a nondisclosure agreement signed eight years ago.”

Blanche stated that the charges are about whether Donald Trump “had anything” to do with Michael Cohen, his former attorney, on his personal accounting ledger.

“The answer? The bookings were accurate, and there was no intent to defraud or conspiracy to influence the 2016 election,” said Blanche. “The proof doesn’t add up.”

Blanche informed the jury they couldn’t convict Trump based on the testimony of Cohen and recalled how Cohen “took the stand and then lied.”

“The records are not false, and there was no intent to defraud,” said Blanche.

Blanche reiterated that no single invoice had been sent directly to Trump and that Cohen had billed Trump “for services rendered.” He additionally told the jury Michael Cohen rendered services as Trump’s personal attorney in 2017.

The defense attorney said that even if the amount of work was minimal, there was a retainer agreement, which Blanche explained is “how retainer agreements work.” Blanche stated Cohen was “on call for President Trump.”

Blanche also explained Trump didn’t sign checks.

“You can’t convict President Trump,” Trump said. “Because sometimes President Trump looked at the invoices…that is a stretch, and that is reasonable doubt.”

Blanche continued by saying that Cohen had asked the jury to “ignore” the documents and believed he had worked for free.

“Do you even believe that for a second?” asked Blanche.

Previously, Cohen had testified he was “reimbursed $420,000” for the $130,000 he paid to Daniels. Michael Cohen said Allen Weisselberg, former Trump Organization CFO, suggested he “gross up” the payments and that Trump was aware of the reimbursement’s details.

The prosecution showed Cohen 11 checks totaling $420,000, which he confirmed had been received and deposited. On the checks was written a description of “retainer,” which Cohen maintained was incorrect.

Blanche reiterated that the idea that Donald Trump would have agreed to pay Cohen $420,000 when he only owed him $130,000 is “absurd,” adding that there isn’t proof of “grossing it up” and no evidence of tax treatment.

Blanche: Trump must prove Trump intended and aimed to defraud

The defense attorney said the prosecution must prove Trump “caused” these entries with the intent and aim to defraud. However, he asked the jury, “Where is the intent to defraud?”

Blanche said a 1099 tax form reflects the payments from a Trump personal account to Cohen.

“There is nothing false or misleading about 1099,” said Blanche. “If there was a deep-rooted intent to defraud, why was it reported to the IRS as exactly what it was?”

As far as the alleged scheme of “catch and kill” with the National Enquirer publication, Blanche said the arrangements were “perfectly legal” and arrangements by American Media (AMI), the company that owns the National Enquirer, has practiced for several decades.

“There is nothing criminal about Trump wanting positive news stories. But the idea that positive stories in [the] National Enquirer could influence [the] 2016 election is preposterous,” said Blanche.

However, Blanche did state David Pecker, AMI CEO, admitted he had “never heard” of the term “catch and kill.”

Blanche said, “That’s meaningful.” As far as Cohen goes, according to Blanche, “he is the human embodiment of reasonable doubt.”

“He lied to you repeatedly…he is biased and motivated,” said Blanche, adding the jury should have a witness that tells the truth.

“Michael Cohen is the GLOAT,” said Blanche. “He is the greatest liar of all time…his words cannot be trusted…all those lies, put them to the side for just a moment, that is enough to walk away.”

Blanche noted that Cohen had previously lied to the House of Congress, state judges, family judges, and federal judges.

“You cannot send someone to prison based upon the words of Michael Cohen,” said Blanche, adding the verdict needs to be reached based on evidence from witnesses and documents. “If you do that, this a very quick and easy not-guilty verdict.”