The Trump verdict: Five key questions

After weeks of testimony, Donald Trump's hush money trial is nearing an end, ITV News US Correspondent Robert Moore breaks down what happens next

There are a number of key questions as we await a verdict in the Trump hush money trial in New York. The verdict could come as soon as today.

What will the jury decide?

Most analysts say this case is very finely balanced. This is new legal territory and some experts say that it should be in federal - not state - court. Michael Cohen, the main prosecution witness, is a former felon and known liar.

The seven men and five women of the Manhattan jury have a range of options. They could find Donald Trump guilty, and accept the prosecution case that not only did Trump know that a payment was being made to buy Stormy Daniels’ silence, but that it involved falsifying business records and that it was done in pursuit of impacting the 2016 election.

Trump could also be acquitted of all charges - although that is seen as unlikely given the political leanings of a Manhattan jury.

However, it is certainly possible that one or two jurors emerge as holdouts and refuse to convict him. That would lead to a mistrial and would be widely seen as a victory for the former president.

What will the political impact be on the election race?

This is the most fascinating question. This significance of the case is not really about the prosecution of a former president. Rather, it’s about whether Americans will be voting for a convicted felon as their next president.

Most voters have a fixed view of Trump. They either love him or despise him. Polling shows the vast majority of Americans won’t change their minds, even with a conviction or an acquittal.

But this election will be very close. So even a small number of independent or centrist voters in key swing states changing their vote in the aftermath of this verdict could cost Trump the election.

Will there be an appeal?

Yes, if Trump is convicted, we can be certain there will be an appeal. His legal team can appeal to both the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division and then to the New York State Court of Appeals (the latter is where Harvey Weinstein’s scored his recent improbable legal victory).

So this legal drama is not over. And if there is a split jury and a mistrial is declared by the judge, the New York District Attorney can re-file the charges and start again with a different jury. Only a full acquittal will ensure this case is over.

Trump is accused of falsifying business records 34 times. Credit: AP

What about the other cases?

Yes, it’s easy to forget the New York trial is widely seen as the weakest of the four cases. Trump also faces the prospect of another state trial, in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is charged with election interference.

And then there are two federal trials that are likely to happen at some stage - the Washington DC trial for his involvement in the January 6 insurrection, and the Florida case for hoarding secret documents.

But in these other cases Trump has been successful in delaying the trials. None are likely to happen before the November election. That is why there is such a focus on this case and this jury’s imminent verdict.

If he is convicted and goes to jail, can Trump still be president?

Yes, absolutely. There is nothing in the constitution that says a convicted felon cannot be president (perhaps the Founding Fathers didn’t quite anticipate this type of case).

In any event, a prison sentence is not certain if he is convicted. Trump could face a fine or be made to do community service. Indeed, for a first-time offender and a non-violent crime like falsifying business records, it’s unlikely he will be incarcerated.

But even if did go to jail, he can still be elected president. That said, campaigning and holding TV debates would be challenging if Trump is behind bars.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…