WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) — Testimony in Donald Trump’s hush money trial has concluded, after more than four weeks and nearly two-dozen witnesses. This week, the case heads into the final stretch.

Beginning Tuesday, prosecutors and defense lawyers will have a final opportunity to address the jury in closing arguments, expected to continue for much of the day. As the proceedings began for th day, defense lawyer Todd Blanche said he expects to speak for about 2½ hours. Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said he may go as long as 4½ hours.

Prosecutors are likely to remind jurors they can trust the financial paperwork they've seen and testimony from witnesses.

The defense does not have to prove innocence. The defense simply must convince at least one juror that prosecutors haven't proved Trump's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Expect the defense to cast doubt on the government's case by disputing Stormy Daniels' testimony about her encounter with Trump and by distancing Trump from mechanics of reimbursement to Michael Cohen, who was responsible for the $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels.

The defense also may reassert Trump was concerned about shielding his family from salacious stories, not winning the election.

It almost certainly will attack the credibility of Cohen, who pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the payment.

A crucial moment could occur Wednesday, when Judge Juan M. Merchan is expected to instruct the jury regarding law that governs the case, providing a guide for what jurors are allowed to consider.

Jury deliberation will proceed in private. Jurors may communicate with the court through notes that, for example, ask the judge for legal guidance or to have specific excerpts of testimony read to them.

The jury must evaluate 34 counts of falsifying business records. That could require significant time, so a verdict might not come by the end of the week.

Those expected in court today include Donald Trump's sons, Don Trump Jr. and Eric Trump; daughter-in-law Lara Trump; daughter Tiffany Trump and her husband Michael Boulos.

Media Coverage Rules

 

New York state rules do not allow TV cameras during courtroom hearings.

There is an overflow room where news media can watch the proceedings live via monitor, but visitors are prohibited from recording and photography in the overflow space.

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