CNN Legal Analyst Breaks Down How ‘Key’ Jury Instructions Could Benefit Trump Defense


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Jason Cohen Contributor
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CNN legal analyst Michael Moore on Monday explained how the judge’s instructions to the jury could benefit former President Donald Trump’s defense in his New York trial.

Trump confronts 34 felony counts of allegedly falsifying business records in relation to reimbursing his former attorney Michael Cohen, who is the prosecution’s star witness and is resuming his testimony on Monday as the trial is wrapping up. Moore on “CNN News Central” suggested Judge Juan Merchan’s upcoming instructions to the jury to guide them in reaching their verdict could benefit Trump’s defense because of Cohen’s credibility, the high burden of proof in criminal trials and an important witness not taking part in the trial. (RELATED: ‘Didn’t Make Any Sense’: Jonathan Turley Says Michael Cohen May Have Committed Perjury … Again)


“I do think they‘ll get the standard charge about whether or not they can believe a witness and credibility is solely within their province,” Moore said. “They get to decide which evidence they are going to accept and believe. I think we’re going to hear a unique charge built around the missing witness of Weisselberg. There’s a question on whether or not it’s actually the missing witness charge or something like that. But I think the judge will have to structure something to that effect.”

Merchan suggested that former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg testify on behalf of the prosecution as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg sought to introduce his severance package into evidence during the trial. However, Bragg did not call him to testify.

Noted attorney Alan Dershowitz said Wednesday that Trump’s lawyers should seek a “missing witness instruction” as prosecutors have an obligation to call relevant witnesses and that if they do not, the jury can assume their testimony would be unfavorable to the prosecution.

“And one thing that is always important in a criminal case and that is this distinction between what’s a civil case and what‘s a criminal case,” Moore continued. “And so lay jurors sometimes mix up and confuse exactly what the burden of proof is … We don‘t convict people because of fuzzy, right? … The state is asked to come in and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did this. And so the jury is going to have to be charged on that duty and that burden that the state carries at all times and of course, you’re going to have the standard charge telling them that Trump doesn’t have to testify. No criminal defendant has to testify.

“In fact, they don’t have to put on a single piece of evidence. That‘s solely the state’s job as they come forward. So the missing witness,” Moore added. “The credibility stuff, that burden of proof stuff, those are going to be the key charges that are very standard and I expect we’ll hear in detail.”

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