First day of jury deliberations ends without a verdict in Donald Trump's criminal trial

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The judge overseeing the hush money case against Donald Trump dismissed the jury on Wednesday afternoon after no verdict was reached on Day One of deliberations in the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president.

Deliberations started in the late morning after state Judge Juan Merchan delivered lengthy instructions to the 12-person jury. They deliberated for about 4 1/2 hours.

Court will reconvene Thursday morning, when jurors will re-hear portions of testimony they requested to review as well as Merchan's jury instructions, which took him about an hour to read to them Wednesday morning. It was not immediately clear if the instructions will be read again in their entirety. The request for testimony and instructions came by way of notes from the jury Wednesday afternoon.

A verdict could come as soon as Thursday, though deliberations could easily extend into next week or beyond.

It's the suspenseful denouement to one of the highest-profile trials in recent memory, and one that could carry enormous stakes for this year's presidential election.

Attorneys on both sides delivered lengthy closing arguments Tuesday that stretched into the evening, when Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told the panel: "You, the jury, have the ability to hold the defendant accountable."

Merchan instructed the jury to set aside their personal feelings when considering whether Trump is guilty, reminding them that, as with all criminal trials, it’s the prosecution’s duty to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The defendant is not required to prove that he is not guilty,” Merchan said.

He also instructed the jurors not to draw any inferences either way from the fact that Trump did not testify, and he reminded the jury that a decision of guilt must be unanimous among all 12 members.

Jury deliberations happen entirely behind closed doors, and the only hints of jurors' thinking come from notes they submit to the judge.

The jury on Wednesday submitted two such notes — announced by a loud buzzer in the courtroom, which can also signal that the jury has reached a verdict.

One note asked that the jury instructions be read again, while the other requested specific portions of testimony delivered by former Trump attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen and former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker.

Some legal analysts saw the requests as a good sign for the prosecution, since their case rests heavily on the testimony of Pecker and Cohen, but others cautioned against trying to infer anything from jury notes.

Trump, wearing a navy suit and yellow tie, retained his now-familiar pose throughout most of the day, with his eyes closed and head tilted softly back, though he appeared to grow restless at times.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office has charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records relating to a hush money payment Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign. Prosecutors allege Trump reimbursed Cohen through a series of payments that were falsely listed as legal expenditures.

The DA's office was able to elevate the charge, typically a misdemeanor, to a felony by alleging the records were falsified with the intent to conceal another crime. Steinglass suggested Trump was trying to cover up a number of crimes, including violations of state and federal election laws.

In his own closing arguments, Trump attorney Todd Blanche told the jury: “President Trump is innocent. He did not commit any crimes, and the district attorney has not met their burden of proof. Period.”

He argued that the records weren't falsified because Trump wasn't reimbursing Cohen for the Daniels payment; instead, he was paying for general legal services because Cohen was Trump's personal lawyer at the time.

Steinglass called that account jaw-dropping, noting that Trump had previously publicly acknowledged having reimbursed Cohen.

Cohen was the prosecution’s key witness, and Blanche told jurors he couldn't be trusted because of his history of lying. “He’s literally like the MVP of liars,” Blanche said.

Steinglass acknowledged that Cohen had a history of lying but said he'd often done so to protect Trump. That Trump's attorneys were trying to use those lies to undermine his credibility “is what some people might call chutzpah,” Steinglass said.

The trial began with jury selection on April 15. Trump, who said before the proceedings began that he'd "absolutely" testify, never took the stand in his own defense.

If he's convicted, Trump faces up to four years in prison.

A Secret Service official said the agency has made “no plans yet” if Trump is convicted and potentially faces a detention. "We are purposely holding on having those discussions given the deliberation," the official said.

After he left the court while the jury began deliberations, Trump once again railed against the trial and the judge.

On his Truth Social media platform, he unleashed a torrent of criticism attempting to undermine the trial's legitimacy — posting 21 times in five minutes. Trump claimed, "I don't even know what the charges are in this rigged case," even though the 34 counts have been public for months and read aloud during the trial.

“Mother Teresa could not beat these charges. The charges are rigged. The whole thing is rigged,” he said in another post.

Outside the courthouse, Trump supporters have been rallying daily and their numbers are expected to grow as a verdict nears.

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