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Trump on trial: Jury deliberations underway, verdict awaited

Trump on trial: Jury deliberations underway, verdict awaited Photo: Former US President Donald Trump (Getty Images)
Author: Daryna Vialko

The jury in the trial of former US President Donald Trump has entered deliberations in a New York court.

Will Trump be found guilty, how long until a verdict is reached, and what punishment could he face - find out in the material by RBC-Ukraine below.

The trial of former US President and Republican candidate in the November elections, Donald Trump, which lasted for about a month and a half, is coming to a close. The 12-member jury begins closed-door deliberations on the prosecution and defense arguments, after which they will deliver a verdict on Trump's guilt.

Both the guilty and not guilty verdicts must be returned unanimously. If the jurors cannot reach a unanimous decision, a "mistrial" will be declared. This means that Trump is not found guilty, but prosecutors may seek a retrial.

RBC-Ukraine provides details of the most high-profile court case in the United States in recent times - as it is the first time a former US president has been criminally charged.

What is Trump accused of?

According to prosecutors, during the 2016 presidential elections in which Trump won, his lawyer Michael Cohen paid porn actress Stormy Daniels $130,000. In return, Daniels was supposed not to disclose the information about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump back in 2006, as Trump's campaign feared that this could harm his chances of winning the elections.

While paying hush money itself isn't illegal - it's a fairly common practice in the US - Trump is accused of reimbursing Cohen after his victory, disguising it as legal expenses. This falsification of accounting documents is a crime.

What did the witnesses say in court?

Over the course of the trial, more than twenty witnesses testified: lawyers, analysts, media managers, etc.

Two witnesses aroused the most interest: Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, and porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Cohen had long been a member of Trump's inner circle, in fact, he was his confidant, including on sensitive assignments. As a result of these activities, he was found guilty of numerous financial crimes, cooperated with the investigation, and joined the camp of Trump's opponents, calling him a racist and a fraud.

Cohen's testimony is largely the basis of the prosecution's case - he stated that he had discussed with Trump more than twenty times the best ways to hush up the Daniels story and acted on the former president's direct instructions.

The porn actress's testimony caused even more excitement among the public. Daniels described in detail what happened, including the position in which she had sex with Trump and how long it lasted.

What does Trump say?

In court, the former US president is silent and has even been seen dozing off several times during the proceedings. Instead, immediately after leaving the courtroom, in front of numerous cameras, he barely restrains himself, accusing the prosecution and the court of bias and executing a political agenda. He personally blames Joe Biden for the organization of the trial, alleging that Biden is trying to eliminate a competitor in the elections.

Trump has repeatedly violated the court's order not to comment on the trial's participants, resulting in a fine of nine thousand dollars, which hasn't stopped him from making further statements.

Essentially, Trump and his lawyers deny the fact that the former president engaged in sexual activity with Daniels, presenting him as a victim of extortion by the porn actress. Therefore, Trump does not admit guilt to any of the charges against him. The defense also actively criticizes the prosecution's witness, Cohen, calling him "the greatest liar of all time".

When will the verdict of the jury be announced?

There is no legal limit on how long jurors can take to deliberate. Their deliberations behind closed doors can last from a few hours to several weeks (though excessively prolonged deliberation is considered unlikely). Generally, longer discussions are thought to increase the likelihood of a guilty verdict, although this rule is not binding.

What does Trump face if found guilty?

If the jury unanimously finds Trump guilty, the judge will decide on his punishment. In total, Trump is charged with 34 counts, each of which could result in a maximum of four years in prison. Considering the US practice of compounding sentences, Trump could face up to 136 years behind bars.

But this option looks purely theoretical - he is not accused of a violent crime, and he has no criminal record. The judge may decide to serve the sentences concurrently, in which case he will be sentenced to four years in prison.

According to most forecasts, Trump's punishment is unlikely to be imprisonment. Perhaps it will be limited to probation. Another option is house arrest.

How will Trump's verdict affect the US presidential elections?

The key point is that even if found guilty and even if he is imprisoned, Trump can still run for president in the next elections. If he wins, he will be able to perform the functions of the president while behind bars, although nobody in the US can imagine how this would work in practice. So far, this looks like a theoretical scenario.

A more concrete effect of the conviction will be on his electoral chances. According to a poll conducted in early May by ABCNews and Ipsos, 4% of Trump's supporters would not vote for him if he were found guilty, and 16% would think about it.

Read more about the trials in which former US President Donald Trump is currently involved, whether he can be sent to prison, and how these trials affect his chances in the elections in the material by RBC-Ukraine.

Sources: The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC News, and the BBC.