Jury instructions conclude in Trump's NYC criminal trial, here's what the jury was told

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Jury instructions concluded on Wednesday in the New York City criminal trial against former President Trump after the jury was given several critical directions on how to determine the guilt or innocence of the former president, including one controversial instruction that Fox News Contributor Jonathan Turley called the "coup de grace."

"Merchan just delivered the coup de grace instruction," Turley explained. "He said that there is no need to agree on what occurred. They can disagree on what the crime was among the three choices. Thus, this means that they could split 4-4-4, and he will still treat them as unanimous."

Judge Juan Merchan also instructed the jury on knowledge of a conspiracy, according to Fox News' Lydia Hu, who was inside the courtroom on Wednesday.

"He said, mere knowledge of a conspiracy does not make [the] defendant a co-conspirator. Prosecutors must prove intent," Hu reported. "Also, being present with others when they form a conspiracy does not mean that the defendant is a part of the conspiracy."


Judge Merchan, left; former President Trump right
On Wednesday, Judge Juan Merchan, left, revealed the framework a Manhattan jury will use to consider the charges against former President Trump and reach a verdict.

Hu reported that the instruction makes former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's testimony related to his phone call to Trump advising about the Stormy Daniels NDA issues "very important" because if a juror believes that Cohen was advising Trump of the specific NDA and attempting to get a "sign off" to set up the bank account and LLC that a "juror could maybe find intent on behalf of Trump."


The jury was told that if they have a question on the law, they should send in a note asking to revise and that the foreperson, the first juror selected, does not need to write the note or even agree.


courtroom sketch showing former President Trump, Tiffany Trump, and Lara Trump in courtroom

Judge Merchan told the jury that in order to find the defendant guilty, the prosecutors are required to prove that on or about Feb. 14, 2017, former President Trump personally made or caused a false entry in business enterprise, specifically an invoice from his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen.

Second, jurors must conclude that Trump did so with intent to commit another crime or intent to conceal another crime. That leaves 33 remaining counts, each for falsifying business records. The only difference between the counts is a different business record or date. The jury can ask to repeat the law in its entirely as many times.

"Merchan has instructed that the first count of falsifying business records in the first degree must show that Trump made or caused a false entry to be made," Turley reported. "Intent means conscious or purpose to defraud. Intent does not require an intent to defraud any particular person or entry but a general intent to defraud."

Michael Cohen depicted in courtroom sketch
Michael Cohen is questioned by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger on re-direct during former President Trump's criminal trial on charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in Manhattan state court in New York City on May 20, 2024 in this courtroom sketch.

Turley continued, "Merchan said that the crime being committed was the NY election law by ‘unlawful means.’ However, that ‘unlawful means’ is shown when there is a showing of intent to cause actions or the performance of conduct."

The jurors will not be allowed to leave the jury room during deliberations and will have to give their cell phones to a court officer. Jurors can only discuss the case among themselves and can only deliberate when they are all gathered in the jury room.

Jurors were instructed to work until 4:30 p.m.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records linked to alleged hush money payments to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

Fox News' Maria Paronich, Lydia Hu, and Shannon Bream contributed to this report.

Original article source: Jury instructions conclude in Trump's NYC criminal trial, here's what the jury was told