Donald Trump said nothing in the courtroom as his lead defense attorney delivered his closing argument that the former president should be found not guilty of falsifying business records.

He didn’t need to.

Todd Blanche’s two-and-half-hour statement was shot through with the words and fingerprints of the defendant himself, making it part legal argument, part campaign address.

There was a belittling nickname for a key witness—’Michael Cohen is the GLOAT. The Greatest Liar of All Time’—frequent references to prosecutors as the ‘government’ (when in New York State court it is ‘the people’ who bring prosecutions) and a final incendiary reference to his client facing prison.

‘You cannot send someone to prison … you cannot convict somebody based upon the words of Michael Cohen,’ said Blanche, raising an immediate objection from the prosecution.

Donald Trump's words echoed around court on Tuesday. Not from his own mouth, but in the form of his lawyer Todd Blanche (seen here on the left) as he delivered his closing argument

Donald Trump’s words echoed around court on Tuesday. Not from his own mouth, but in the form of his lawyer Todd Blanche (seen here on the left) as he delivered his closing argument

Sentencing is the judge’s domain. And no one really believes Trump faces a prison term, other than the writers of Trump campaign press releases. 

It meant Tuesday morning had something of the rhetoric of a Trump rally, much to the fury of Judge Juan Merchan. He rounded on Blanche, pointing out that as a former prosecutor he should know better than to use such language.

‘You know that making a comment like that is highly inappropriate. It’s simply not allowed. Period,’ he said. 

‘It’s hard for me to imagine that was accidental in any way.’

After lunch, the judge instructed the jury to put all thoughts of prison and sentences out of their heads when they begin their deliberations on Wednesday.

Trump denies 34 counts of falsifying business records. 

The trial is in its finishing stages, with both defense and prosecution on Tuesday getting the chance to tie together the threads of evidence from 22 witnesses in their closing statements.

The court has  heard from witnesses and from words in his own books that Trump has a tendency to micromanage, casting a keen eye over invoices, balance sheets and checks.

In the same way, those who know him well say it is unthinkable that he did not have a say in the way the closing argument was written.

Blanche delivered his closing arguments for about two-and-a-half hours on Tuesday

Blanche delivered his closing arguments for about two-and-a-half hours on Tuesday

Much of the defense's closing argument was aimed at discrediting Michael Cohen's testimony

Much of the defense’s closing argument was aimed at discrediting Michael Cohen’s testimony

Some aspects were highly Trumpy. Others were more subtle.

Nowhere was it more evident than when Blanche repeated again and again that Cohen, a disbarred lawyer with a conviction for lying who is the prosecution’s star witness, was less than reliable. 

He was the M.V.P. of liars, he said, before reaching for that most Trumpian of rhetorical devices: The nickname.

‘Michael Cohen is the GLOAT: The Greatest Liar of All Time,’ he said, pausing for effect.

The structure of his argument was also similar to his client’s ‘deny everything’ approach: Trump did not sleep with Stormy Daniels; there was no catch-and-kill agreement for damaging stories; Trump had nothing to do with the documents in question, which were invoices written by Cohen, or vouchers drawn up by accounting staff, or auto-generated checks; and don’t believe anything Cohen said.

Cohen, after all, was the only witness to direct link Trump to the plan to reimburse Cohen for the $130,000 hush money he gave to Daniels.

Much of the prosecution case, argued Blanche, was the normal work of a candidate running for election.

Tiffany Trump took a seat in courtroom 1530 for the first time on Tuesday, joining other members of her family and friends of Trump as the trial reaches its conclusion

Tiffany Trump took a seat in courtroom 1530 for the first time on Tuesday, joining other members of her family and friends of Trump as the trial reaches its conclusion

From left to right: Donald Trump Jr., Tiffany Trump, Eric Trump, Lara Trump arriving in court

From left to right: Donald Trump Jr., Tiffany Trump, Eric Trump, Lara Trump arriving in court

Trump returned to court Tuesday after the long holiday weekend

Trump returned to court Tuesday after the long holiday weekend

‘Any campaign in this country is a conspiracy to promote a candidate, a group of people who are working together to help somebody win,’ he said. 

Likewise, there is nothing illegal about non-disclosure agreements, he added, using the Trump line that anything drawn up by lawyers is by definition legal.

Throughout it all, the jury listened intently. On Wednesday, they will likely begin their deliberations, charged with deciding for the first time in history whether a former president is guilty of criminal charges.

They looked as if they knew their responsibilities. They followed Blanche’s arguments and his PowerPoint sliders, looking down at their monitors closely.

It was friends and family day for the defendant. Daughter Tiffany appeared in court for the first time, taking a seat in the front row, beside sister-in-law Lara, and brothers Eric and Don Jr. 

For his part, Trump focused on the arguments more closely than previous days. He twisted around to his right to better watch Blanche deliver what he hopes will be knockout lines.

Blanche more than anyone knows that his job throughout has been to balance the audience of 12 that will decide his client’s guilt or innocence, and the audience of one sitting beside him. 

It was family and friends day for Trump with (from left to right) Don Jr., Eric Trump, Lara Trump and Tiffany Trump sitting behind him in the courtroom

It was family and friends day for Trump with (from left to right) Don Jr., Eric Trump, Lara Trump and Tiffany Trump sitting behind him in the courtroom

Trump's lawyers language has mimicked Trump's, referring to prosecutors as 'the government' rather than 'the people' for example

Trump’s lawyers language has mimicked Trump’s, referring to prosecutors as ‘the government’ rather than ‘the people’ for example

And the client-in-chief would have heard his lawyer refer repeatedly to the prosecution as ‘the government.’ Forty times, in fact. 

‘So, I’m going to talk a little bit now about what I expect the government will talk about, which is a conspiracy to influence the 2016 election,’ he said at one point.

Blanche is a former federal prosecutor, In that role, he did indeed represent the government.

But in New York Supreme Court, prosecutors represent ‘the people of the state of New York.’ 

Some observers suggested the slip was a hangover from Blanche’s past in a different type of court. But it also fits better with Trump’s rhetoric of witch hunts and persecution. 

‘Why is the corrupt government allowed to make the final argument in the case against me? he asked on Truth Social a day earlier, apparently unaware that the prosecution always goes last.

‘Why can’t the defense go last? Big advantage, very unfair. Witch hunt!’ 

It is all a reminder of how the defense began, and how Blanche laid out a linguistic benchmark in his opening statement 

‘We will call him “President Trump” out of respect for the office that he held from 2017 to 2021,’ he told the jury. ‘And as everybody knows, it’s the office he’s running for right now. He’s the Republican nominee.’

Throughout, Trump has frowned and glowered from his seat at the defense table. And his words have reverberated around the courtroom from audio recordings, or read his books, or even in messages dripping with pastiche sent by others. 

In one text message displayed to the jury, the Aussie-born editor of the National Enquirer jokes the plans to ‘Make Australia Great Again.’ 

‘Trump is looming behind everything they’re doing,’ prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said drily.

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