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In the Hands of the Jury

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Donald Trump | John Angelillo/UPI/Newscom

Donald Trump criminal trial comes to a close: During Tuesday’s closing arguments in the New York criminal case against Donald Trump, the prosecutor, Joshua Steinglass, argued that the former president “had engaged in a fraud against the American people on the eve of the 2016 election by silencing a porn star’s account of a sexual encounter with him,” per The New York Times‘ write-up. Steinglass said that the cover-up, via purportedly falsified business records, of the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels “could very well be what got President Trump elected.”

“We’ll never know if this effort to hoodwink the American voter” was what resulted in Trump’s win, Steinglass mused at one point.

This strains credulity, to say the least. This was not the only scandal Trump endured related to sexual impropriety and questions of character. The Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump made his infamous “grab ‘em by the pussy” comments, had come to light prior to the 2016 election; I fail to buy that there’s a significant contingent of voters out there who would have been concerned by the Stormy Daniels affair, yet fine with the Access Hollywood comments. This is a man whose ex-wife had accused him of rape back in 1990, after all, and who’s had quite a few settlements with work underlings related to sexual misconduct claims.

But it will be up to the jurors to decide whether they believe Steinglass and whether Trump should be convicted of any of the 34 counts he’s been brought up on. The hammed-up framing of it all, though unsurprising, lends a bit of credence to people’s claims that this trial is politically motivated.

We have no idea how long the jurors will deliberate; a decision could come quickly or it could take many weeks. “Jurors will have the option of convicting Trump of all counts, acquitting him of all counts, or delivering a mixed verdict in which he is found guilty of some charges and not others,” notes the Associated Press. “If they deadlock after several days of deliberations and are unable to reach a unanimous verdict, Judge Juan M. Merchan may declare a mistrial.”

Related: A primer on the basics of the case.

Also: If convicted, how likely is it that Donald Trump would actually go to prison vs. being sentenced to probation, conditional discharge, or community service? Politico has some answers as to how this might play out.

Scenes from New York: On June 6, New York’s legislative session will end. Lawmakers are currently considering, before they break for summer, voting on a “bill [that] would require companies that use single-use plastic packaging to find sustainable alternatives or pay a yet-to-be-determined fee, which would go toward covering the costs of municipalities’ recycling and waste disposal. New York City, officials said, could reap as much as $150 million in costs,” per The New York Times.

  • In downtown Seoul, participants are competing to see who can space out the longest.
  • North Korea is dumping literal garbage on South Korea.
  • Pope Francis issued an apology after using an anti-gay slur in a private meeting with 250 Italian bishops.
  • “If a recession doesn’t materialize soon, it could do lasting damage to the yield curve’s status as a warning system,” reports The Wall Street Journal, “providing one of the most significant examples of how the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic has upended longstanding assumptions on Wall Street about how markets and the economy function.”
  • An investigation by The Guardian and Israeli magazines +972 and Local Call has revealed how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “deployed its intelligence agencies to surveil, hack, pressure, smear and allegedly threaten senior [International Criminal Court (ICC)] staff in an effort to derail the court’s inquiries.” This is on the heels of the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, announcing arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, and follows years of complaints by Israelis that the government is wrongly singled out by international organs that were intended to police human rights abuses.
  • Noah Smith writes about the new Cold War, how China might blockade Taiwan vs. invading it, and about how the U.S. should “prioritize Asia over either Europe or the Middle East.”

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