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The Wrath of Merchan and other Trump trial takeaways, as prosecution rests

Prosecutors in former President Donald Trump’s trial rested their case on Monday after a chaotic fourth day of testimony by Michael Cohen, whose turn on the stand came to an end as Trump’s defense team began calling their own witnesses.

Jurors soon heard from Robert Costello, a lawyer whose testimony quickly sprinted past Cohen’s in terms of acrimony, leading the judge to clear the courtroom in anger.

In an extraordinary confrontation toward the end of the day, Justice Juan Merchan severely admonished Costello for interjecting and rolling his eyes. “Are you staring me down?” Merchan asked the witness in a raised voice before suddenly shouting for everyone to leave.

Costello had been a focus of both sides’ examination of Cohen. He billed himself as a “back channel” for Cohen after the FBI raided Cohen’s home and office in 2018. He claimed Cohen told him that Trump “knew nothing” about the “hush money” payment at the heart of the case.

Over the course of the morning and early afternoon, Cohen faced one last barrage from Trump attorney Todd Blanche, who once again attacked Cohen’s credibility, motivations and general truthfulness. Portraying Cohen as motivated by greed and willing to lie when it suits him, Blanche got Cohen to admit to stealing $30,000 from a tech company in 2017, and reminded the jury about his history of false testimony under oath.

Cohen is the only person who has testified that Trump had personal knowledge of an alleged scheme to falsify business records to cover up reimbursements for the $130,000 “hush money” payment Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. Trump is charged with 34 felony counts and has pleaded not guilty.

Costello will return to the stand on Tuesday. Merchan said that both sides should prepare to begin closing arguments next week. He previously hoped to begin wrapping up the case this week, but he must still resolve a handful of outstanding issues before the jury can begin deliberations.

Here’s how Monday unfolded inside the courtroom:

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