Trump doesn't testify in hush money trial after saying he would

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It’s official: Donald Trump will not be testifying in his own defense. While expected, the decision stands out as a smart one from Trump in a case where the defense strategy has not always been clear.

The defense rested Tuesday and summations are set for next Tuesday, after which the jury will begin deliberating on whether Trump is guilty or not guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. He has pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution has the burden to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense has no burden, and the jury is not supposed to infer anything negative from Trump's decision not to testify.

After the prosecution rested, the main defense witness was Robert Costello, whose testimony wrapped up Tuesday. He was seemingly called to contest key state witness Michael Cohen’s credibility, but the overall effectiveness of putting him on the stand was unclear. Costello’s misbehavior on the stand caused Judge Juan Merchan on Monday to chastise the witness in a remarkable scene.

Trump previously told reporters he would “absolutely” testify in the first criminal case against a former U.S. president. There’s nothing legally binding about such remarks, as the ultimate choice is up to the defendant himself when the time comes whether to testify or not. Trump testifying likely would have made his defense lawyers’ jobs even harder, given his tenuous relationship to the truth.

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