New York Judge Reveals When Trump Trial Will Likely End

He also ruled that potential witness and former FEC member Bradley Smith will not be allowed to give his opinion on the case or on federal election law.
New York Judge Reveals When Trump Trial Will Likely End
Judge Juan M. Merchan (L) in his chambers in New York on March 14, 2024. Former President Donald Trump (R) at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on March 25, 2024. (Seth Wenig/AP Photo; Spencer Platt/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial said that closing arguments in the case probably will be made next week.

He also ruled that a proposed defense expert cannot give his opinion on election law when he testifies.

Judge Juan Merchan suggested on May 20 that the trial is taking longer than previously expected, adding that the closing arguments are likely to be made on May 28, the day after the Memorial Day holiday. It means that the jury is not likely to make a decision until the seventh week of the trial.

“It was either have a long break now or have a long break then, and unfortunately the calendar is what it is,” Judge Merchan said, referring to the holiday weekend. “It’s become apparent that we are not going to be able to sum up tomorrow.”

On May 20, Judge Merchan declined to allow a potential expert witness, Bradley Smith, who was a member of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), to give his opinion on the case or define several terms in federal election law.

The judge said there are rules that prevent allowing expert witnesses to interpret laws, adding that Mr. Smith also cannot give his analysis on whether President Trump’s alleged activity violates election laws.

Court will be adjourned on Wednesday, May 22, which is the normal day off for the trial each week. It will also be adjourned this Friday and on May 27.

On May 17, there was no court in session because President Trump was in Florida to attend his son Barron’s high school graduation.

Prosecutors have brought up about 20 witnesses to testify, which includes former Trump associate and lawyer Michael Cohen, who had claimed on the stand that the former president directed him to make payments to an adult film performer in exchange for her silence.

The former president has pleaded not guilty to falsifying business records, saying the charges were brought in an attempt to harm his 2024 presidential campaign’s chances.

Mr. Cohen’s testimony was expected to conclude on May 20. After that, President Trump’s lawyers will have a chance to present evidence and witnesses of their own, although it’s not clear if they will bring up any witnesses at this point.

President Trump’s lawyers said this past week they did not think they would need much time unless he opted to testify. “That’s another decision that we need to think through,” defense attorney  Todd Blanche said.

If he chooses to testify, President Trump will have the opportunity to convince jurors that he was not responsible for the paperwork at the heart of the case, and he could respond to claims made by the adult film performer, Stormy Daniels, who also testified.

President Trump would not be restrained by a gag order that bars him in other settings from criticizing witnesses, jurors, and relatives of the judge and prosecutors. However, the former president would face cross-examination by prosecutors, who could try to expose inconsistencies in what he said.

The New York trial is widely seen as the least consequential of the four criminal prosecutions President Trump faces, but it is likely the only one to go to trial before the election.

He also faces election-related charges in Washington and Georgia, as well as charges in Florida of mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House in 2021. He has pleaded not guilty in all three cases.

Before entering the Manhattan court, President Trump again told reporters that he believes the case is unfair.

“I’m here instead of campaigning,” he said. “As you know, I was supposed to be in a very different state this morning.

“And the judge actually decided to call it [the trial to resume] early. And yet it looks like we’re going to have a very big gap between days, and it’s going to be determined right now in court. But we’re here about an hour early today.”

The former president added that he “was supposed to be making a speech for political purposes. I’m not allowed to have anything to do with politics because I’m sitting in a very freezing, cold courtroom for the last four weeks. It’s very unfair.”

Reuters contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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