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Trump hush-money trial: Both sides rest following Robert Costello testimony

Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he arrives for his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Tuesday. Closing arguments are expected to start next week in the felony trial charging Trump with making illegal hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016. Pool Photo by Justin Lane/UPI
1 of 3 | Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he arrives for his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Tuesday. Closing arguments are expected to start next week in the felony trial charging Trump with making illegal hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016. Pool Photo by Justin Lane/UPI | License Photo

May 21 (UPI) -- Final arguments are set to begin in the hush-money trial of Donald Trump as the defense rested its case on Tuesday.

Judge Juan Merchan instructed the jury that the trial will resume for final summations next Tuesday. The defense and prosecution will be back in the courtroom Tuesday afternoon to discuss the jury's charging instructions.

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At the start of the day, prosecutor Susan Hoffinger resumed her cross examination of the defense's final witness, Robert Costello, the former attorney of Michael Cohen.

Hoffinger pressed Costello about some of his testimony from Monday, including him stating that he only had Cohen's interests in mind while representing him.

Hoffinger showed the jury an email sent in 2018 from Costello to his law partner Jeff Citron.

"Tune into CNN and see how they are playing this up," Costello writes. "Cohen has to know this and he continues to slow play us and the President. I am in a golf tournament tomorrow early and again on Sunday. What would you say to this [expletive]? He is playing the most powerful man on the planet."

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Costello denied Hoffinger's assertion that he has animosity toward Cohen, saying that he does not think Cohen is telling the truth. She then asked him if he was trying to intimidate Cohen and he denied that he was.

When defense attorney Emil Bove next questioned Costello he revisited the suggestion that Costello was trying to intimidate Cohen. Costello said he did not pressure Cohen into doing anything.

Hoffinger reviewed several more emails from 2018, including emails between Cohen and Costello. These conversations included discussions about Rudy Giuliani joining Trump's legal team.

Costello also emailed Citron to devise a strategy to "get Cohen on the right page without giving him the appearance that we are following instruction from Giuliani or the president." Costello said he was referring to Cohen becoming irritated about Giuliani making statements to the press.

Costello denied asking Cohen to retain his representation, promising a backchannel to the former president. Hoffinger then showed the jury an email from Costello to Cohen mentioning a "backchannel" to Trump.

Costello said it was Giuliani who first used the word "backchannel."

In one email from Cohen to Costello and Citron, he tells them to stop contacting him.

Costello's testimony became contentious on Monday, causing Judge Juan Merchan to briefly clear the courtroom and admonish the witness over repeated sighs, backtalk and visible signs of frustration.

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The prosecution rested Monday after more than nine hours of testimony by Cohen.

Trump faces 34 charges related to allegedly falsifying business documents to hide hush-money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels was one of 22 witnesses to testify in the trial.

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