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Opinion: Trump's defense ends on one disastrous witness

·1 min

After a dramatic conflict between Justice Juan Merchan and defense witness Robert Costello on Monday, the jury was dismissed on Tuesday as both sides discussed jury instructions in the Manhattan criminal trial of former President Donald Trump. Day 20 of the proceedings exceeded expectations, despite low initial expectations. The defense case did not include testimony from Trump himself, but instead relied on Costello as the main witness. However, the defense lost points when prosecutors cross-examined Costello, insinuating that he tried to control Michael Cohen to benefit Trump and prevent him from cooperating with authorities. The defense’s case was further weakened during the charging conference on jury instructions, as the law the jurors must follow is unfavorable for Trump. The combination of Costello’s poor performance, Cohen’s strong redirect, and the unfavorable law led to the overall points tally favoring the prosecution. The defense may have been better off not calling Costello as a witness or having Trump testify.