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Jurors ask questions as deliberations continue in Trump hush money case

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The jury of 12 New Yorkers, which includes two attorneys, has asked the judge questions as deliberations in the hush money case of former President Donald Trump extend to a second day.

On Wednesday afternoon, hours after deliberations began, the jury sent two notes to Justice Juan Merchan. They requested information related to the testimony of two witnesses: David Pecker, the former publisher of The National Enquirer, and Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, NBC News reported.

The jury sent a third note Thursday morning stating they want some of the jury instructions repeated, The Hill reported.

The judge had read 55 pages of instructions to the jury Wednesday morning before deliberations began.

Merchan told jurors to give additional scrutiny to Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer, because he testified he was directly involved in Trump’s alleged effort to cover up the payment to adult actress Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election.

“Even if you find the testimony of Michael Cohen to be believable, you may not convict the defendant solely on that testimony unless you find it was corroborated by other evidence,” Merchan said.

The case centered around Trump’s alleged sexual encounter with an adult film actress in 2006 and a $130,000 payment to her in 2016 to keep her quiet ahead of the 2016 election. Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied the encounter happened.

Prosecutors allege that Trump covered up the payment to Stormy Daniels and another hush money payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal ahead of the election, falsifying records to claim they were legal payments.

Trump, 77, is the first former U.S. president to be charged with a felony.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to money paid to Daniels and McDougal. Bragg has alleged Trump broke New York law by falsifying business records with the intent to commit or conceal another crime.

Prosecutors allege Trump falsified internal records kept by his company, hiding the true nature of payments to Daniels ($130,000), McDougal ($150,000), and Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen ($420,000). The money was logged as legal expenses, not reimbursements.

Prosecutors called 20 witnesses.

Trump’s defense team called two witnesses, including one who contradicted Cohen’s testimony. Robert Costello, a defense attorney Michael Cohen spoke to in 2018 while under federal investigation, refuted Cohen’s testimony that Trump knew about the $130,000 hush money payment to adult actress Stormy Daniels.