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With closing arguments in Donald Trump’s hush money trial having ended on Tuesday, jury deliberations have officially begun, putting the outcome of the case in the hands of a dozen New Yorkers.

Former President Donald Trump at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 28, 2024 in New York City. (Julia Nikhinson-Pool/Getty Images)

A jury of seven men and five women were instructed to begin deliberating just before 11:30 a.m., where they will weigh in on the first criminal trial of a former US president. While the jurors’ discussions will be in private, they can send Trump-hating Judge Juan Merchan notes asking to rehear testimony or review evidence.

“It is not my responsibility to judge the evidence here. It is yours,” said Merchan.

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with an alleged scheme to shelve potentially embarrassing claims during the 2016 US election – similar to how the Clintons paid Paula Jones $850,000 to drop a sexual harassment lawsuit after more than four years of legal action.

According to Merchan, “Your verdict on each count you consider, whether guilty or not, must be unanimous,” adding “That is, each and every juror must agree to it.”

“You should discuss the evidence and consult with each other, listen to each other, give each other’s views careful consideration. And when you deliberate, you should do so with a view to reaching agreement when that can be done without surrendering an individual juror,” Merchan continued.

As the Epoch Times notes further, all the evidence from trial has been loaded onto a laptop, and Juror 4 and Juror 6 volunteered to operate it for the group.

Merchan checked with defense attorney Todd Blanche about whether defense counsel explained to President Trump about evidence being on the laptop for jurors.

Mr. Blanche affirmed that defense counsel reviewed the contents of the laptop and have no objections to this protocol.

“I always watch the jurors. I watch to see who is paying attention and who is not,” said Merchan. “Justice Merchan said. “Each of you is very engaged in this case. But we’re not going to excuse [alternates].”

During closing arguments on Tuesday, Merchan criticized Blanche for telling the jury that the former president could go to prison if they convict – and reminded them that their decision would be based on the word of Michael Cohen, who Blanche described as a “liar” who “lied to” the jury.

“You cannot send somebody to prison, you cannot convict somebody based upon the words of Michael Cohen,” said Blanche – to which prosecutors jumped in and objected.

Merchan agreed, sustaining the objection.

“That was outrageous, Mr. Blanche,” he said. “Someone who’s been a prosecutor as long as you have, someone who’s been an attorney as long as you have knows that it’s highly inappropriate.”

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