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Trump opts not to testify in hush money trial

Former President Trump will not take the stand in his own defense during his New York criminal trial, after his attorneys rested their case Tuesday, shortly after prosecutors did the same the day before.

“We’ll be resting pretty quickly — resting meaning resting the case. I won’t be resting,” Trump said outside the courtroom Tuesday morning. “I don’t rest. I’d like to rest sometimes, but I don’t get to rest.”

The defense resting triggers the final stages of the historic trial. The judge has scheduled closing statements for next Tuesday, with deliberations set to begin afterward.

The decision to keep Trump off the stand comes after weeks of uncertainty, with Trump sometimes telling reporters he could testify — a move legal experts warned could be risky in the former president’s first criminal trial — and other times ignoring persistent questions on the matter.

Even Trump’s own attorneys as of last week were unsure whether their client would take the stand, just days before the Manhattan district attorney’s office was expected to rest its case-in-chief.

“That’s another decision that we need to think through,” Trump attorney Todd Blanche told the judge Thursday.

Trump’s testimony would have marked the third time he has taken the stand in one of his trials during the past year.

Defense attorneys called two witnesses in their case: legal analyst Danny Sitko and lawyer Robert Costello.

Costello, a lawyer who once advised Michael Cohen, acted as a go-between Trump’s White House and Trump’s ex-fixer after he was exiled from the then-president’s inner orbit while being federally investigated.

During the state’s case-in-chief, jurors saw emails from Costello to Cohen encouraging him to stay loyal to the former president as his legal woes mounted — an effort Cohen described as a “pressure campaign” to keep him in line, which Costello later denied.

Sitko works for Trump’s lead attorney, Todd Blanche, and has often passed notes to other lawyers throughout the trial. He testified for about 10 minutes before Costello took the stand, despite objections from the state.

The former president faces 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment Cohen made to porn actress Stormy Daniels in the lead-up to the 2016 election to stay quiet about her alleged affair with Trump from 2006, which he denies.

Trump has pleaded not guilty, insisting the records were truthful and also that he was not personally involved in the scheme.

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