Before the jury reaches a verdict in the criminal trial against former President Donald Trump, both parties began their closing arguments on Tuesday, highlighting their most important witnesses and testimonies jurors have heard from throughout the trial.

Todd Blanche, Trump’s lead defense, began his closing arguments first. Blanche warned the jury that the prosecution’s key witness, Michael Cohen, who was Trump’s former attorney, is a “liar.”

“You cannot send somebody to prison, you cannot convict somebody based upon the words of Michael Cohen,” Blanche said, per CBS News. “Michael Cohen, he’s the human embodiment of reasonable doubt, literally.”

Cohen was a big witness for both the prosecution and defense due to his role in Trump’s finances leading up to his 2016 presidential election, which are at the center of the “hush money” trial. In his 34-count criminal indictment against the presumptive presidential nominee, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Braggs is accusing Trump of manipulating business records to hide an alleged payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

The $130,000 payment was apparently made by Cohen for Trump as a way to keep Daniels from divulging a sexual encounter she claims she had with Trump in 2006 at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. Trump has denied the affair and pleaded not guilty on all counts in the case against him.

Both Judge Juan Merchan and the prosecution did not favor Blanche’s prison comments about Cohen. “I think that saying that was outrageous, Mr. Blanche,” Merchan told Blanche, according to ABC News. “It is simply not allowed, period.”

Merchan added that he would give curative instructions to the jurors regarding the prison comment.

Blanche also highlighted in his closing arguments that there was no solid evidence that Trump was aware of payments made to Daniels or illegal intent to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“The records were not ‘falsified’ because they cited legal services and Cohen was Trump’s lawyer at the time, Blanche said in court Tuesday, per the New York Post. “The ‘scheme’ was to book a legal expense as a legal expense,” he added. “That’s absurd.”

Prosecution begins their closing arguments

John Steinglass, one of the lead prosecutors who also led the conviction of the Trump Organization in 2022, told the jury on Tuesday that the alleged “hush money” payment made to Daniels near the 2016 election was a “conspiracy” that “could very well be what got President Trump elected,” per The New York Times.

Like Blanche, he also emphasized Cohen’s involvement but said Trump’s former lawyer is “understandably angry that to date, he’s the only one who’s paid the price for his role in this conspiracy.”

Steinglass also acknowledged that some believe the prosecution to be guilty of manipulating their case.

“There is nothing sinister here — no manipulation,” he said, according to ABC News. “This case, at its core, is about a conspiracy and a coverup, a conspiracy to corrupt the 2016 election and a coverup to hide that conspiracy,” Steinglass said.

“We asked you to remember to tune out the noise and to ignore the sideshows. And if you’ve done that ... you will see the People have presented powerful evidence of the defendants guilt,” he added.

Before afternoon break, Steinglass told the judge that he was about one-third of the way done with his closing arguments.

Celebrity campaigns for Biden outside courtroom

As Blanche gave his closing arguments Tuesday morning, tensions between Trump supporters and a movie star took place outside the courtroom.

Actor Robert De Niro showed up with two first responders, who were present at the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, outside the courthouse at the request of President Joe Biden’s political campaign, according to The Associated Press.

“It was a sharp about-face for Biden’s team, which had largely ignored the trial since it began six weeks ago and is now looking to capitalize on its drama-filled closing moments,” the AP added. “A top Biden adviser said they weren’t there to talk about the trial — and De Niro and the officers didn’t reference the sordid criminal case directly — rather to exploit the large media focus on the legal proceedings.”

Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., posted his opinions of De Niro campaigning for the Biden administration on social media: “In 2020, Joe Biden had literally every A-list celebrity in his corner lining up like sheep. They would show up to his ‘rallies’ and fundraisers all the time… now most of those denounce him or went totally dark… all he’s got left is deranged Robert De Niro STILL IN A MASK!!! LOL.”