Jury in Trump’s Trial Rehears Testimony and Judge’s Instructions

Jurors in the criminal trial of Donald J. Trump heard testimony from two key witnesses and a portion of the judge’s instructions to the jury read back to them in court on Thursday morning, one day after they asked for a refresher on the material.

The jury asked for the readbacks in two notes to the judge after discussing the case among themselves for several hours on Wednesday, their first day of deliberations. It is unclear what the requested material may reveal about what is happening in the jury room, and it is difficult to draw any conclusions about the state of their conversations over Mr. Trump’s guilt or innocence.

The testimony the jurors requested to hear included questions posed by both the defense and the prosecution to David Pecker, the former publisher of The National Enquirer, and Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer. They were the first and last witnesses to testify for the prosecution and the two who spent the most time on the stand during the trial.

Both spoke about working during Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign to suppress unflattering stories about Mr. Trump while promoting negative stories about his political rivals.

Prosecutors argued that the effort amounted to a conspiracy to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. It included a $130,000 hush-money payment made to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress who said she had sex with Mr. Trump in 2006 and considered going public with her account during his campaign.

Specifically, the jurors asked for the following details to be read back:

“We, the jury, request David Pecker’s testimony regarding phone conversation with Donald Trump while Pecker was in the investor meeting.”

Mr. Pecker, who took the stand first, provided testimony over several days that laid the foundation for the prosecution’s narrative throughout the rest of the trial. He spoke about multiple private conversations he said he had with Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen about helping the campaign.

On his second and third days of testimony, Mr. Pecker discussed a meeting of investors in June 2016 involving the tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc., that was interrupted by a phone call from Mr. Trump.

Mr. Pecker said that he stepped away during a presentation to talk to Mr. Trump, who suggested that he knew Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who claimed to have had sex with Mr. Trump during a 10-month affair starting in 2006 and was at the time discussing selling the rights to her story to A.M.I.

“Karen is a nice girl,” Mr. Trump said, according to Mr. Pecker. “What do you think I should do?”

Mr. Pecker said he answered that Mr. Trump should buy Ms. McDougal’s story.

A.M.I. later paid her $150,000.

“David Pecker’s testimony regarding the decision not to finalize and fund the assignment of McDougal’s life rights.”

Mr. Pecker testified about buying the “life rights” to a story or a tip, saying that it meant that the specific story could not be published anywhere else. At the same time, A.M.I. was not obligated to print any of Ms. McDougal’s story, he said. He also said A.M.I. never had any intention of doing so.

If her story appeared anywhere else, Mr. Pecker said, she would have had to pay back the $150,000.

Mr. Pecker said he decided not to proceed with getting reimbursed by Mr. Trump for the deal with Ms. McDougal, which would have assigned her life rights to Mr. Trump and not The National Enquirer.

He also asserted that he had structured the deal to include health columns written by Ms. McDougal and magazine covers featuring her, in an effort to lend an air of legitimacy to the deal and avoid violating campaign finance law. But the company later admitted doing just that in a 2018 nonprosecution agreement with federal prosecutors.

On Thursday, jurors were also read portions of the defense’s cross-examination of Mr. Pecker, in which he misremembered the exact date of the August 2015 meeting.

A defense lawyer, Emil Bove, reminded Mr. Pecker that in his grand jury testimony, he stated that the meeting had taken place in the first week of that month.

“You changed your testimony here; right?” Mr. Bove asked.

“Yes, Mr. Pecker said, “when I discovered that it was in the middle of August.”

“Pecker’s testimony regarding Trump Tower meeting.”

Prosecutors have argued that a key meeting in the conspiracy to help Mr. Trump’s campaign took place at Trump Tower in Manhattan in August 2015. Mr. Trump had announced his candidacy a few months earlier.

Mr. Pecker said he was asked to attend by Mr. Cohen, who joined him and Mr. Trump at Mr. Trump’s office on the 26th floor. There, Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen asked him how his magazines could help Mr. Trump’s campaign, Mr. Pecker testified.

“I said what I would do is I would run or publish positive stories about Mr. Trump and I would publish negative stories about his opponents,” Mr. Pecker testified. “I said I would be your eyes and ears.”

“Michael Cohen’s testimony regarding the Trump Tower meeting.”

Mr. Cohen also addressed the August 2015 meeting at Trump Tower with Mr. Trump and Mr. Pecker. He corroborated Mr. Pecker’s testimony on the discussion that took place and said the power of The Enquirer was also a topic.

“That if we can place positive stories about Mr. Trump, that would be beneficial,” Mr. Cohen said on the stand. “That if we could place negative stories about some of the other candidates, that would also be beneficial.”

“We, the jury, request to rehear the judge’s instructions.”

Before the jury started deliberations on Wednesday, the judge, Juan M. Merchan, read a 55-page document of jury instructions, which they were not allowed to take into their discussions. They asked for a significant portion of it to be read back to them, from Pages 6 to 35, which includes the judge’s instructions on “evidentiary inferences.”

That phrase refers to reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the evidence that jurors heard at trial. Justice Merchan illustrated the concept with an analogy:

“Suppose you go to bed one night when it is not raining, and when you wake up in the morning, you look out your window; you do not see rain, but you see that the street and sidewalk are wet, and that people are wearing raincoats and carrying umbrellas. Under those circumstances, it may be reasonable to infer, that is conclude, that it rained during the night.”

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