Trump insiders say he is unlikely to testify in hush money trial

Donald Trump almost certainly will not testify in his criminal hush money trial as the case heads towards jury deliberations later this week, according to sources.

Four people close to the former president told The Washington Post on Sunday that it is unlikely that the former president will take the stand to defend himself from 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in a bid to cover up a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Mr Trump’s abstention from testimony may hardly be a surprise.

Despite his boastful assertations that he would testify (as recently as last month), the former president’s own legal team is widely thought to consider that route to be a mistake.

Ty Cobb, the president’s former White House counsel, even went as far as saying that – if he was still Mr Trump’s attorney – he would threaten to resign if he went forward with his desires to testify.

Mr Trump has repeatedly toyed with the idea of taking the stand in his first criminal trial.

Days before the trial began, he said he “absolutely” planned to do so.

“Yeah, I would testify, absolutely,” he said at a press conference in Palm Beach.

“I’m testifying. I tell the truth, I mean, all I can do is tell the truth. And the truth is that there is no case,” he added.

Donald Trump appears in court for his criminal fraud trial on 16 May 2024 (Getty Images)
Donald Trump appears in court for his criminal fraud trial on 16 May 2024 (Getty Images)

But later, after sitting through seven days of the trial, Mr Trump appeared to get cold feet.

Calling into right-wing network Newsmax, he was asked if he still planned to testify based on what he had seen so far in the courtroom.

Appearing much more hesitant, Mr Trump responded: “Well I would if it’s necessary. Right now, I don’t know if you heard about today. Today was just incredible. People are saying – the experts, I’m talking about legal scholars and experts – they’re saying, ‘What kind of a case is this? There is no case’.”

The former president’s team must let the judge know for definite on Monday when the prosecution is expected to wrap up its case.

While he may not take the witness stand in this trial, as a criminal defendant, the former president has had to show up for court every day (albeit seemingly unconsciously at some points) and sit through the testimony of a number of former associates, including former White House communications director Hope Hicks, his former “fixer” and attorney, Michael Cohen, and Ms Daniels.

During the trial, he has been reprimanded mutliple times by Judge Juan Merchan for breaking the gag order in the case at least 10 times.

The former president has also been reprimanded for swearing in court during the testimony of various witnesses.

Meanwhile, his Manhattan courtroom has become something of a pilgrimage site for MAGA Republicans and VP-wannabes like Vivek Ramaswamy, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz and others.

The former president is accused of 34 charges of falsifying business records over a hush money payment made to Ms Daniels to stop her coming forward about an alleged 2006 affair while he ran for the White House in 2016.

The New York trial is the first of four criminal cases he faces including charges of illegal retention and mishandling of classified materials as well as his efforts to overturn the 2020 election based on lies and conspiracies about election fraud.

Legal analysts have grown increasingly uncertain that any of the others will make it to court before voters head to the polls this fall.

The outcome of his New York trial could be pivotal for the election as sizable groups of independent voters and even some Republicans have said they would not vote for the ex-president were he to be convicted of a felony before November.