Jury reaches verdict in Trump hush money trial

Jack Queen, Luc Cohen and Andy Sullivan |

Donald Trump denies having had an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Stormy Daniels.
Donald Trump denies having had an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Stormy Daniels.

The jury that will decide Donald Trump’s fate in his criminal hush money trial has reached a verdict, the New York judge says.

Court officials did not say on Thursday whether the jury had found Trump guilty or not guilty of falsifying business documents to cover up a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election.

The jury was expected to announce its verdict shortly.

Trump, 77, has pleaded not guilty and denies having had the alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Daniels.

A guilty verdict could upend the 2024 presidential race, in which Trump, the Republican candidate, is seeking to take back the White House from Democratic President Joe Biden in a November 5 election.

A conviction will not prevent Trump from trying to take back the White House. Nor will it prevent him from taking office if he wins.

Opinion polls show Trump and Biden locked in a tight race. But Reuters/Ipsos polling has found that a guilty verdict could cost Trump support among independent and some Republican voters.

A verdict of not guilty would remove a major legal barrier, freeing Trump from the obligation to juggle court appearances and campaign stops.

If convicted, he would be expected to appeal. Trump faces three other criminal prosecutions, but they are not expected to go to trial before the Nov. 5 election.

The case stems from a $US130,000 ($A196,000) payment Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen made to Daniels shortly before the 2016 election to ensure she would not tell voters her story of a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump 10 years earlier. Trump denies ever having sex with Daniels.

Prosecutors say the payment to Daniels could have contributed to Trump’s 2016 victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton by keeping an unflattering story out of the pubic eye.

Prosecutors say Trump tried to cover up that payment by disguising his reimbursement payments to Cohen as legal fees.

They have charged him with 34 counts of falsifying business documents. Prosecutors elevated those charges from misdemeanour to felony status by arguing that Trump was trying to cover up evidence that he interfered with the election.

Trump’s lawyers argued that prosecutors did not prove that he knew about the scheme, which they portrayed as normal business activity. They told jurors they could not trust the testimony of Cohen, a convicted felon with a long track record of lying.