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Jury begins deliberations in Trump hush money trial

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Twelve jurors started deliberations Wednesday morning to decide the history-making trial of former President Donald Trump, who is accused of covering up hush-money payments to women ahead of the 2016 election.

Judge Juan Merchan read detailed instructions to the jury Wednesday morning after hearing from 22 witnesses over four weeks of testimony in the first-ever trial of a former U.S. President.

The jury began deliberations at 11:28 a.m., according The Hill reporter Zach Schonfeld.

“Mother Teresa could not beat these charges,” Trump told reporters outside the courtroom. “The whole thing is rigged.”

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, Reuters reported.

“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.