First day of jury deliberations in Trump New York hush money trial

Former President Donald Trump falsely claimed Wednesday that Judge Juan Merchan “is not requiring a unanimous decision on the fake charges against me.”

Trump made the claim in a social media post in which he described Merchan’s supposed position as “RIDICULOUS, UNCONSTITUTIONAL, AND UNAMERICAN.” He was echoing assertions that had been circulating among conservatives after Fox News anchor John Roberts wrote on social media earlier on Wednesday that “Judge Merchan just told the jury that they do not need unanimity to convict.” 

Facts FirstTrump’s claim inaccurately depicts what Merchan said.

Merchan told the jury in his instructions on Wednesday that their verdict “must be unanimous” on each of the 34 counts that Trump faces and that, to convict Trump of felony falsification of business records, they would have to unanimously agree that he falsified business records with the intent to commit, aid or conceal another crime — that other crime being a violation of a New York election law. But Merchan explained that while this New York election law prohibits people from conspiring to use “unlawful means” to promote a candidate’s election, jurors don’t have to unanimously agree on which particular “unlawful means” Trump may have used; they can find him guilty as long as they unanimously agree that Trump used some unlawful means.  

Prosecutors provided three theories of what unlawful means Trump used. Merchan told the jury: “Although you must conclude unanimously that the defendant conspired to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means, you need not be unanimous as to what those unlawful means were. In determining whether the defendant conspired to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means, you may consider the following: (1) violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act otherwise known as FECA; (2) the falsification of other business records; or (3) violation of tax laws.”


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